Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cadbury and Buffett

We noted last month that the EC had given itself until January 6 to study the issue of Krafty's desire to take over Cadbury.

That time has now run, and although I have yet to see an announcement, the general expectation is that Kraft has or will receive Phase One clearance to proceed with its takeover plan. [UPDATE: The general expectation was right. The EC is now saying that it will allow the deal if Kraft divests Cadbury's Polish and Romanian chocolate confectionary businesses.]

But the pieces on this chessboard have been in motion while the EC has been mulling over the shape of the board. Warren Buffett, of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has weighed in, for example. Also, Kraft is selling its pizza business to Nestle, for $3.7 billion, and Nestle says it is not in the bidding for Cadbury.

I'm not sure what all this means. Buffett isn't saying that he doesn't want Kraft to make the deal, but he is saying that he opposes the issuance of new shares as a way of paying for it. And Buffett, who has a 9.4% stake in Kraft via Berkshire Hathaway, is not one to be trifled with in such matters.

Will Kraft be able to get the deal done in cash, and at the curent bid? Stay tuned, sports fans.

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