1. Normally, our programme of work is focused on
scrutinising Government policy. Occasionally we need to widen
that focus in order to respond to unforeseen events. The takeover
of Cadbury by Kraft, and the manner in which it was conducted,
provoked a strong public reaction and has proved to be an event
which is likely to shape public policy in the future. We therefore
believed that it was important for us to consider the matter.
The purpose of this Report is to present the evidence that Kraft
gave to us on its plans for Cadbury and comment briefly on a number
of proposals which have been put forward to reform the regulation
of takeovers as a result of Kraft's acquisition of Cadbury.
2. On 12 January, before the takeover was completed,
we took oral evidence from Professor Christopher Bones, Henley
Business School; Jack Dromey, Deputy General Secretary and Jennie
Formby National Officer, Food and Drinks Sector from Unite the
Union; and Ian Lucas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State,
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. At the time both
Cadbury and Kraft were prevented by the City Code on Takeovers
and Mergers from discussing the details of their respective positions
in public and therefore did not give evidence.
3. Despite strong resistance to the bid, Cadbury's
board capitulated a few days after we held our January evidence
session. On 19 January Cadbury recommended Kraft's offer to its
shareholders. Kraft received formal acceptance of its offer on
2 February and concluded the takeover.
4. At the start of its bid for Cadbury, Kraft announced
its intention to keep open Cadbury's factory at Somerdale, which
Cadbury had previously earmarked for closure.
On 9 February, after the takeover had been completed, Kraft announced
that it was no longer able to deliver on that intention.
This reversal provoked a public outcry. We therefore decided to
hold a second evidence session with senior representatives from
Kraft to put its future plans for Cadbury under the spotlight.
5. On 16 March we took further evidence from Unite
the Union and from Marc Firestone, Executive Vice President, Kraft;
Trevor Bond, President, Cadbury, Britain & Ireland and Richard
Doyle, HR Director, Cadbury, Britain & Ireland. We had extended
the invitation to give evidence to Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer of Kraft, an invitation she declined to
accept. Marc Firestone explained that Irene Rosenfeld was unable
to attend because our evidence session clashed with a Kraft Board
meeting in the United States.
However, it was pointed out to Marc Firestone that the date of
the session was arranged at Kraft's convenience,
and had originally been planned for the beginning of March. We
have subsequently received a letter from Irene Rosenfeld confirming
that she endorses the content of the evidence given by Marc Firestone.
6. Notwithstanding the seniority of Marc Firestone's
position within Kraft, we strongly believe that Irene Rosenfeld
herself should have given evidence before us, not least because
the statements regarding Somerdale's futureits re-opening
and then its closurewere made and announced by her. Irene
Rosenfeld's attendance would have given an appropriate signal
of Kraft's commitment to Cadbury in the United Kingdom and provided
the necessary authority in respect of the specific assurances
offered to us during our evidence session.
1 Kraft's Takeover Proposal document, 7 September 2009 Back
BBC News, Cadbury's Bristol plant to close, 9 February
Q 166 Back
Q 167 Back