Cadbury to Kraft: We choose to remain independent

In a nutshell, this letter states that Cadbury remains focused on being an independent confectionary business, highlighted by the several acquisitions it has made throughout the years, as well as the de-merger of it beverage business.  Kraft, being a conglomerate, fails to live up to the British firm’s objectives.  Here’s the entire letter sent by the CEO of Cadbury to Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft’s CEO, as posted on Cadbury’s website (emphasis mine):

“Dear Irene
In my letter of 31st August, I informed you that the Board had rejected your unsolicited proposal on the grounds that it is unattractive and fundamentally undervalues Cadbury. Under your proposal, Cadbury would be absorbed into Kraft’s low growth, conglomerate business model, an unappealing prospect which contrasts sharply with our strategy to be a pure play confectionery company. I also re-affirmed the Board’s confidence in our future prospects as an independent company. There is nothing in your letter dated 7th September, or your various announcements on and since that date, to change our view.

I would like to take the opportunity to expand on some points I made in my letter.

Over the past few years, Cadbury has completed a major corporate transformation through the acquisition of Adams and the demerger and sale of our beverage businesses. The disposal of Beverages provides the clear business focus we believe essential to achieve outstanding performance.

We have created a pure play confectionery business with strong brands occupying leading market positions in both developed markets and high growth emerging economies – a business of considerable inherent value, impossible to replicate and with a unique position in the global confectionery market. We have a clear set of targets, a track record of delivery accepted by the market and value enhancing plans to further exploit our proven growth platforms.

We have demonstrated through our performance to date that we have the scale, capabilities and resource to deliver on our commitments to shareholders. Since the Adams acquisition, our confectionery business has delivered top line growth of over 6%, we have increased our global market share by over 100 bps and generated comparable margin growth of over 200 bps, all while materially increasing spend on marketing and science and technology to drive innovation.

We have been able to demonstrate both organic and inorganic growth. The acquisition of Adams, together with more recent acquisitions, including Intergum and Sansei, provided scale and new growth opportunities in attractive product areas of gum and candy together with exposure to emerging markets that complemented our powerful British Commonwealth heritage.

Our integration of Adams achieved combined cost and revenue synergies of 14% by the end of 2006. We achieved this performance by reinvigorating sales growth, re-stimulating the acquired brands through increased marketing investment and widening the product range through greater commitment to product innovation.

We understand the attraction of our business and fully appreciate the value and benefits it would offer to those looking for superior growth and exposure to our attractive product segments and markets. Equally, the quality of our management, the momentum of our business, the power of our brands, the strength of our market positions and the spread of our global footprint continue to underpin our belief in the business and its prospects as an independent entity.

Finally, I would emphasise that the delivery of value to our shareholders remains at the top of our agenda. Your proposal is for Cadbury shareholders to exchange shares in a pure-play confectionery business for cash and shares in Kraft, a company with a considerably less focused business mix and historically lower growth. In addition, the proposal is of uncertain value for Cadbury shareholders as underlined by the movement in the Kraft share price since your announcement. Your proposal fundamentally fails to reflect the current value of Cadbury as a standalone business, its growth prospects and the potential synergies of a combined entity.

We are committed to the delivery of optimum value to our shareholders and our Board remains convinced that this is achieved through continuing to deliver our standalone pure play confectionery strategy.

Yours sincerely
Roger Carr
Chairman, Cadbury plc”

Experts don’t expect Kraft to back off.  Instead, they’re seeing a much sweeter offer than the one proposed.

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