As Cadbury prepares its final defence against a hostile bid from America's Kraft, Italian manufacturer Ferrero appears to have secured a loan that would allow it make an offer for the 200-year old confectioner - with or without Hershey.Over the weekend, Cadbury's chairman, Roger Carr, accused Kraft of merely being a puppet of key shareholder Warren Buffett, who's warned Kraft against paying too much for Cadbury.
Tomorrow Cadbury will set out its final argument against Kraft - basically a call to shareholders not to allow it to fall into the hands of the makers of Philadelphia cheese.
It will update figures for last year and claim that Kraft undervalues its prospects for growth. Kraft itself, by contrast, it will say is a low -growth prospect; the very reason it wants to get its hands on Dairy Milk and Cadbury's other coveted brands
Shareholders ultimately will decide whether Cadbury succumbs to Kraft. But the battle has to be played out to a timetable is dictated by Takeover Panel rules:
January 12 The last day Cadbury can mount a defence, and publish key financial details.
January 15 Cadbury won a three-day extension which means it can publishes more financial details after markets close ( but it failed to win an extension for its defence documents)
January 19 The last day Kraft can raise its offer - unless other bidders move in
January 23 Deadline other who have already expressed interest in Cadbury such as Hershey and Italy's Ferrero, to submit a fully financed bid. If not, they have to wait another six months to mount a bid.
February Deadline for votes from Cadbury shareholders if Kraft is going to exceed the 50% it needs to win. If Kraft fails, it has to wait 12 months before bidding again for Cadbury. Also the deadline for a new bidder to throw their hat into the ring.
Cadbury may feel that with Tuesday's document, they have persuaded shareholders that they need to see a bid far in excess of 800p per share and so convince them to turn their back on Kraft (which is offering 769p).
But the next couple of weeks could mean an eventful ride for the company - with plenty of scope for others to enter the fray.
If it is not someone who's already expressed an interest - like Hershey and Ferrero - then the timetable starts again.
When the music finally stops, Cadbury could yet find itself in different hands.
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