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Cadbury’s union moves to block Kraft takeover

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 11-Dec-2009

British and Irish workers at Cadbury have announced a campaign to resist Kraft’s hostile ₤9.8bn ($16.3bn) takeover bid by appealing to shareholders and politicians to block the deal.

Kraft launched the hostile bid a month ago, following the rejection of its original bid by Cadbury’s board. Kraft effectively sidestepped the board appealing directly to shareholders by making an official second bid of the same nominal value, although its value has declined due to a slide in the American company’s share prices. But Cadbury workers – as well as some politicians – fear that a foreign takeover could lead to local job losses and pay cuts in the UK and Ireland.

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Cadbury’s trade union Unite, said in a statement: "Cadbury is a great UK success story – and it was and is not for sale. But suddenly, a hostile bid and swarming speculators has thrown its future, its investment plans and the jobs of thousands of workers here and in Ireland up in the air.”

The ‘Keep Cadbury Independent’ campaign will be launched with the support of local members of parliament in Cadbury’s home city of Birmingham on Tuesday, the union said. It will involve a demonstration and petition, and the union then intends to take the campaign to parliament on Wednesday to air their concerns with government ministers.

"We must see off the Kraft bid and any others which do not have this company and its workforce's best interests at heart,” said McCluskey. “And we must persuade our government and the regulators to act fast so that healthy UK businesses cannot again fall prey to the finance vultures."

Other companies said to be considering a bid include Hershey and Ferrero, although they would still need to secure financing in order to challenge Kraft’s bid.

Unite said it is contacting all Cadbury’s shareholders urging them to reject Kraft’s bid, on the grounds that Kraft plans to pay for the company through borrowing, its “poor record in takeovers and falling share value”, and fears that decision making would be shifted to Kraft’s offices abroad.

Kraft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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