British-based Cadbury and its Swiss counterpart are believed to have discussed plans to carve up Hershey between them. Such a partnership would prevent interest from Nestle falling foul of regulators.
Hershey Foods is the world’s third largest chocolate maker behind Mars and Nestle and includes Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twizzlers candy and Kisses chocolates in its portfolio.
The company, which was put up for sale by the Hershey Trust in July, also makes KitKat and Rolo under licence to Nestle and Creme Eggs for Cadbury.
It is thought a deal would enable Cadbury to regain control of its own brands in North America and drive
expansion in a region where its strength is based in soft drinks through Dr Pepper and 7-Up.
Cadbury Schweppes declined to comment on the speculation yesterday. In July the group said there was “plenty of room” for more acquisitions after a series of deals pushed profits in the first half of the year up 10%.
At the time, chief operating officer John Brock said targets could include Pfizer’s £3 billion-rated confectionery arm Adams.