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Does Cadbury have merger appetite?

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Kai Ryssdal: The corporate story of the day turns on finances as well. Kraft Foods wants to buy Cadbury, the British candy maker. The offer is almost $17 billion. Today Kraft denied reports it’s going to have to unload Oscar Meyer, Maxwell House, or any of its other brands to pay for that deal. Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE: Kraft’s offer for Cadbury is largely driven by its hunger to reach fast-growing international markets. That’s according to Bob Goldin, executive vice president of the food research firm Technomic.

BOB Goldin: Kraft has been looking to expand their presence outside the U.S. Cadbury’s strength is very much in Europe and other parts of the world.

Cadbury’s business is especially strong in emerging markets where chocolate sales are growing quickly, in contrast to the U.S. and Europe, where they’re basically flat. Those international markets include India and other former British colonies.

DEAN Best: Going back, way back, Cadbury was able to use its British connections to set up businesses in those markets.

Dean Best is the editor of the Web site, which covers the global food industry. After Kraft’s offer was announced last week, there were rumors that Hershey or Nestle might get involved too. But so far, that hasn’t happened. And for its part, Best says Cadbury has shown little appetite for a merger.

Best: Cadbury has been adamant that it can survive on its own two feet. They don’t really see that combining with Kraft will enable the company to grow faster.

Best expects that Cadbury’s CEO will repeat that message in a conference call with analysts tomorrow. But if Kraft does come back with a better offer, especially one that’s heavier on cash, Best says Cadbury’s shareholders may find it too sweet to resist.

I’m Joel Rose, for Marketplace.

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