Cadbury has confirmed for the first time that it has been approached by a number of companies with a view to rivalling Kraft Foods’ hostile bid.

The Dairy Milk maker said it had received “indications of interest from third parties on possible business combinations”, with US confectioner Hershey and Italy’s Ferrero regarded as favourites for a new approach.

Cadbury yesterday unveiled its formal defence against Kraft’s £9.9bn hostile bid, raising its sales targets for the next few years.

Chairman Roger Carr urged shareholders not to “let Kraft steal your company”, in what marked the strongest attack yet by a senior Cadbury figure on the US foods group.

Responding to the defence document, Kraft chief executive Irene Rosenfeld said: “We have heard nothing from Cadbury that surprises us. There is a compelling strategic and financial rationale to combining these two companies and doing so would be in the best interest of both companies' shareholders.”

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Cadbury raises targets in formal Kraft defence (14 December 2009)
Cadbury workers look to warn off Kraft (11 December 2009)