Hershey, Ferrero to rival Kraft's bid for Cadbury

The landscape for the takeover battle of the British maker of Dairy Milk chocolate, Cadbury widened yesterday with smaller rivals Hershey Co and Ferrero International SA saying that they are considering a possible offer for Cadbury.

Hershey, the Pennsylvania-based confectioner and Italian chocolatier Ferrero said in separate statements yesterday that they were reviewing a possible bid, but gave no assurance that they would make an offer for Cadbury.

Both companies were forced to respond after Britain's Panel on Takeovers and Mergers asked them to clarify media reports, which had said that they were considering a joint bid for Cadbury.

"Hershey confirms that it is reviewing its options and at this stage there can be no assurance that any proposal or offer from Hershey will be forthcoming," the company said in a statement, which was similar to the one put out by Ferrero.

After the UK-Based Cadbury Schweppes rejected a $16.7-billion unsolicited takeover offer from Kraft Foods in September saying that its rival's low-growth, conglomerate business model were unappealing, (See: Kraft's low growth business model unappealing: Cadbury),
analysts had widely speculated that Hershey would team up with a bigger player to make a counter offer for Cadbury. (See: Hershey's, Nestle may counterbid for Cadbury)

Hershey, founded in 1894 by Milton Hershey, and now run by the tight-knit Hershey Charitable Trust that controls 77 per cent of the company's voting stock and 31 per cent of common stock, is North America's leading manufacturer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary and chocolate-related grocery products. Some of its most well known chocolate brands include Hershey's Kiss, Kit Kat, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.