HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Co. is "reviewing its options" with regard to a potential bid for Cadbury P.L.C. that would compete with a hostile takeover attempt being pursued by Kraft Foods Inc.
The tersely worded statement was issued by Hershey Nov. 18 in the wake of "recent press speculation regarding a potential offer for Cadbury," Hershey said.
A number of news articles had suggested Hershey may team up with Ferrero International S.p.A. and bid for Cadbury.
The Hershey statement followed by 11 days Kraft’s proposal to acquire Cadbury for $16.7 billion, an offer that was immediately rejected by Cadbury. Under terms of the bid, Kraft said it would pay for each Cadbury share 300 pence in cash and 0.2589 Kraft shares.
In its statement, Hershey expressed uncertainty over whether a bid for Cadbury will emerge.
"There can be no assurance that any proposal or offer from Hershey will be forthcoming," the company said. "A further announcement will be made in due course if appropriate.
From the time in September Kraft first expressed interest in Cadbury, Hershey was frequently mentioned in the media as a possible alternative bidder. No word was forthcoming, though, until this week. Similarly, this week was the first time Ferrero emerged as a potential bidder, though the privately held company did not comment on the prospect.
Based in Alba, Italy, Ferrero operates 14 plants and has 21,600 employees worldwide. The company had €6,214 million in annual sales in 2007-08 (nearly double the $5.3 billion in Hershey’s annual sales). Fererro is led jointly by Pietro Ferrero and Giovanni Ferrero, who jointly serve as chief executive officers. They are the third generation of the family to run the company established in 1946 in Alba by Pietro Ferrero.
In the United States, the company was established in 1969 in New York, and currently is headquartered in Somerset, N.J.
The companies U.S. product line includes Tic Tac breath mints, the Ferrero Rocher chocolate hazelnut products and Nutella, a spread made of roasted hazelnuts, milk and cocoa.
Ferrero, based in Alba, Italy, also acknowledged interest.
"Ferrero confirms it is in the preliminary stages of evaluating its options in respect of Cadbury’s," the company said Nov. 18.