Cadbury kisses off Hershey

January 7, 2010

Whatever his motives, Warren Buffett’s influence can be seen in Cadbury’s share price, which have dipped below the level of Kraft’s $17 billion bid for the first time. The sagging share price shows, among other things, that the market believes Kraft is more likely to make its 50.1 percent acceptance rate without having to aggressively raise its bid.

Analysts still see Kraft having to sweeten the deal, but not as much as they had previously suggested. Also weighing on Cadbury’s stock is the cold water splashing over prospects for a rival bid from Hershey. Cadbury said it was not looking for a white knight bidder and analysts are not convinced Hershey can finance a takeover.

Hershey may not be able to pull off a deal on its own as a white knight, but that doesn’t completely rule out it taking a significant stake in Cadbury. If other big strategic investors were so inclined, and could perhaps tempt some interest from private equity, they could well put together a bloc to scuttle Kraft’s efforts. It might not even take much effort, given the loud, angry way Buffett – Kraft’s biggest share holder — slammed the door on raising the bid.

So if they aren’t holding out for a white knight, perhaps Cadbury execs are hoping more for a carmel cavalry.

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