It’s fair to say Kraft hasn’t won the battle for hearts and minds since its takeover of Cadbury last year – although its new toy hasn’t fared too badly, as you’ll see from Britain’s 100 Biggest Brands.
Kicking Kraft has become a national pastime since the US giant had its way with the sweetheart of our sweet-toothed patriots. Even Todd Stitzer was at it yesterday, lamenting a takeover he modestly claimed had become inevitable thanks to his stunning performance as chief executive.
Yesterday a troika of senior management, including the Cadbury veteran Trevor Bond, were hauled before MPs for yet another dressing-down.
There’s some particularly risible coverage of the confrontation in today’s Daily Mail, whose columnist compares a “quivering” Marc Firestone to a “whipped spaniel” (whatever that means).
It’s unclear what the MPs really hoped to achieve, beyond venting some spleen. Mostly, they seem to have spent the time complaining that Irene Rosenfeld didn’t turn up.
But why should she? Of course, redundancies are always regrettable, especially in such a tough jobs market – and in the context of the Somerdale U-turn, leave a particularly bitter taste. But these are the same MPs who did nothing to stop ownership of Cadbury going overseas, bar the occasional watery warning from Peter Mandelson, the former business secretary.
You can argue all day about the dangers, and questionable effectiveness, of protectionism. Certainly the UK is in a pretty small minority that bases its M&A regime solely on notions of free-market fair play ahead of national interest. In the absence of the mooted 'Cadbury law' protecting our iconic companies, UK plc is on sale to the highest bidder – and besides, even British-owned companies cut jobs to save cash.
Rather than howling into the void about Nasty Irene, perhaps MPs should look closer to home for someone to blame.
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