Cadbury, the under-seige chocolate maker, has asked the Takeover Panel to impose a “put up or shut up” order on its American predator Kraft.
The Creme Egg maker, which is advised by UBS, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, is understood to have asked the Panel to impose a deadline of close to the end of October for Kraft to make a formal bid or walk away for at least six months.
However, it is believed that Lazard and Deutsche Bank, Kraft’s advisers, will lobby the Panel for a much longer period to put their bid together. Kraft has yet to finalise the financing for its £10 billion part share, part cash offer and will now be under pressure to finalise terms with its lenders quickly.
Seeking a put up or shut up order just two weeks after the emergence of a bid is unusual. However, sources close to Cadbury said that Kraft’s aggressive approach in going public with the offer had set the tone for the bid and that they had retaliated in kind.
The Panel usually imposes a deadline of between four and six weeks, but in this case could consider a longer period because the request for the order was made so soon.
Cadbury’s bankers approached the Panel with their request late yesterday afternoon. The Panel contacted Kraft’s team yesterday evening to canvass their opinion.
Just two weeks have elapsed since Kraft went public with its offer for Cadbury. When the 185-year-old company turned down the offer, Kraft went public with its bid in an attempt to persuade shareholders to back it.
Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft’s chief executive, is expected to travel to London this week to try to convince institutional shareholders to support its bid.
Kraft’s biggest shareholder, Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, has openly warned the group’s board about paying too much for Cadbury.