getting fresh: Raising the stakes in Cadbury hunt
Isn’t this a doozy of an ongoing story? You know, Kraft Foods trying to purchase Cadbury, and all the inherent speculation and posturing that’s going on?
Okay, I suppose there are some of you who will be happy that this four-month saga will end soon. From my perspective, watching the headlines pop up weekly, at times daily, lately even hourly, about what steps are being taken to complete this hostile takeover is fascinating.
Consider the latest: After Nestlé announced the sale of its eye-care subsidiary, Alcon, to Novartis for $28 billion, it subsequently purchased Kraft Foods’ pizza business for nearly $4 billion yesterday. With that, it also emphatically released a statement saying it wasn’t pursuing Cadbury. Hot on the heals of this news came word that Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., the holding company for one of America’s wealthiest men, well-known for wheeling and dealing, Warren Buffett, voted no on Kraft’s latest offer to Cadbury, which involved increasing the cash portion of its $16-billion proposal.
On the sidelines sit The Hershey Co. and Ferrero, both of which are quietly contemplating moving in as white knights.
If this all sounds a bit complicated, consider that I haven’t even mentioned the critical deadlines that most likely will spring another set of moves and countermoves. First, Kraft has until Jan. 19 to raise its offer: a costly decision, but one deemed necessary by many outside observers. Now that the company has guaranteed some negotiating money with the sale of its pizza business, I suspect that will happen, despite Kraft’s emphasis on taking a “disciplined” approach.
On Feb. 1, Kraft shareholders will vote on whether to approve the deal or not. Just this morning, Kraft issued a press release saying that 1.5% of Cadbury PLC shareholders have accepted its offer. Well, I guess 1.5% is better than 0%, but I have a feeling the press release was issued to counter Berkshire Hathaway’s nay vote.
However, Nestlé’s announcement that it’s not interested in pursuing Cadbury did have a negative impact on Cadbury’s stock price, lowering it slightly, which brought it down closer to Kraft’s offer price.
Nevertheless, Cadbury’s management continues to stick to its guns, indicating that the new increased cash incentive doesn’t sweeten the pot. Cadbury equated Kraft’s efforts to merely “tinkering,” noting that the offer was still “derisory.” The deadline for Cadbury shareholders to vote on the deal is Feb. 2.
Two more interesting deadlines to note: Jan. 15 and Jan. 19. On the 15th, Cadbury will report its latest results. The 19th represents the deadline for Kraft to make a final offer. Figure on Hershey/Ferrero making a play on Cadbury within that window.
From my perspective, it’s now or never for Hershey. Yes, some analysts point out that the company isn’t in the best financial shape to consummate a deal of this size. I really don’t know if anyone is, to be honest.
But if Hershey ever wants to become a truly global player, now is the time to act. With Ferrero’s help, it can divvy up Cadbury and take greater advantage of emerging markets.
But, then, who knows how this will shake out. It could wind up being a Hershey/Wrigley déjà vu where all the wheeling and dealing falls through at the last minute. The loser in that scenario, however, would be Kraft, having dealt away its pizza business for an empty box of chocolates.
Nestlé opens global biscuits research center
On Monday, Nestlé opened a global research and development center for biscuits and cereal-based snacks in Santiago, Chile. The new center will lead Nestlé’s global research and development in biscuits and cereal-based snacks, focusing both on innovation and renovation of products. R&D Santiago will bring together specialists from various fields, including nutrition, engineering, product development and quality control.
The development of new technologies at R&D Santiago will help to further reduce sugar and fat levels to make biscuits lighter, without compromising taste or texture. R&D Santiago also will develop biscuits with bioactive ingredients to improve digestive health as well as fortified products to address local micronutrient deficiencies, thereby adapting biscuits to local tastes and needs.
"The research at this center will provide exciting opportunities for innovation in a very important product category,” says Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke, who helped inaugurate the event. “It will allow us to offer consumers in Latin America and beyond the choice of tasty, healthy, more nutritious biscuits." Chile’s health and agriculture ministers, Álvaro Erazo and Reinaldo Ruiz, respectively, as well as Alberto Undurraga, mayor of Maipú, also were present at the formal opening.
Nestlé has been present in Chile for 76 years and today has seven production facilities in different parts of the country. The new center in Santiago will benefit by being based at Nestlé’s industrial site in Maipú, which employs more than 1,200 people, thus taking advantage of existing research and development and biscuit manufacturing operations.
For more information, visit www.www.nestle.com.
Mars offers Super Bowl promotion
Football fans will relish the prospect of winning the latest Super Bowl promotion from Mars Chocolate North America. As part of its “Be on the Field 2010 Instant Win Game, “the company’s M&M’S, SNICKERS, TWIX, MILKY WAY and 3 MUSKETEERS brands will treat one lucky fan to an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Super Bowl XLV, where they will get to celebrate on the field with the championship team.
Consumers can play by purchasing Mar’ real chocolate products for their upcoming playoff and Super Bowl parties, and then registering select UPC codes online at www.beonthefield.com through Feb. 7, 2010.
In addition to the grand prize trip, participants in the contest have a chance to win thousands of rewards, including VISA gift cards and packages of Mars products.
For more information about Mars, visit www.mars.com.
Endangered Species Chocolate promotes nine
Endangered Species Chocolate promotes nine Indianapolis-based Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC) recently promoted several employees. The nine promotions involve the following: Troy Bode to western regional sales manager; Monica Erskine to senior communications coordinator; Amy Hollrah to senior graphic designer; Becky Kingery to director of quality & new product development; Nick Lee to director of online development; Kelly Meinken to director of marketing; Natalia Wolting to customer service and communications coordinator; Stephanie Wroblewski to sales coordinator; and Irene Zamora to quality coordinator.
Founded in 1993 in effort to spread awareness and to make an impact on the growing number of plant and animal species that are disappearing from Earth by manufacturing natural organic chocolate bars, ESC has since then embraced a broader definition of “endangered” that now includes all species, habitat and humanity on the plant. According to SPINS data, the company carries the No. 1 selling brand of all-natural chocolate in the natural food category.
For more information, visit www.chocolatebar.com.
Sweet of the Week: Jones Jumble Carbonated Candy
Toronto-based Big Sky Brands has done it again, introducing another fun, flavorful product. The collection includes three special-edition varieties, inspired by new Jones Jumble Sodas from Jones Soda Co. Each Jones Jumble tin will contain a mix of three flavored candies: Fufu Berry, Grape and Green Apple; Berry Lemonade, Orange & Cream and Fufu Berry; or Root Beer, Cream Soda and Cola. The product will be merchandised in 8-ct. open stock trays as well as 24-ct. 3-tier counter displays. The suggested retail price is $1.99 per tin. Retailers interested in carrying the product can call 1-866-324-4759.