On Monday, to the surprise of almost no-one, Kraft finally placed its formal offer for Cadbury at a lower price than the one first mooted. Cadbury chairman Roger Carr branded the offer "derisory", and initial reaction from analysts and commentators more or less echoed his sentiments.
So far so good for opponents of the Kraft bid, but at this level, a hostile takeover is a marathon, not a sprint. And, in this context, the hedge funds are the Kenyans. Almost 14% of Cadbury shares are believed to be owned by these funds and they're only in it for one thing: a quick profit. With a higher Kraft bid almost certain to follow in the next few months, more shareholder heads will be turned.
Compared with the multiple takeover rumours in the late 1980s, public outcry against the classic British brand going into foreign hands is muted. Unions are reluctant to campaign for the company while it's moving production overseas, and in a deep recession the public have so far been unmoved by yet-another potential corporate merger.
Cadbury will have to come up with compelling stories for both shareholders and customers, week after week, if they're to keep Kraft at bay.
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