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Friday 05th of February 2010
February 2, 2010    

Cadbury shareholders vote in favour of Kraft takeover

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by Kay Murchie

Cadbury shareholders have today voted in favour of the £11.5 billion ($18.9 billion) takeover deal from US giant, Kraft Foods.

Today’s vote brings an end to Kraft’s five-month battle to take control of the 186-year-old British confectioner.

Cadbury said it had received valid acceptances of the offer from shareholders representing 71.7% of the company.

Commenting on the deal, Kraft chief executive Irene Rosenfeld said: “I warmly welcome Cadbury employees into the Kraft Foods family.”

However, the deal has not been welcomed this side of the Atlantic with Cadbury employees staging a protest last week in Bournville, Birmingham in a bid to urge shareholders to reject the takeover offer.

As news of the takeover emerged, the Unite union warned that Kraft plans at least 10,000 job cuts worldwide in order to cut costs.

The takeover was also strongly opposed by Business Secretary, Lord Peter Mandelson.

Lord Mandelson sent a warning shot to Kraft saying: “If you think that you can come here and make a fast buck you will find that you face huge opposition from the local population . . . and from the British Government.”

Lord Mandelson will meet with Ms Rosenfeld to discuss UK jobs tonight. In fear of losing their jobs, Cadbury workers also staged protests earlier today calling for Government support to guarantee jobs.

While Ms Rosenfeld has denied significant job cuts, it must be remembered that in 1993, Kraft bought British chocolate company Terry’s and closed its York factory just two years later.

Unite’s deputy general secretary Jack Dromey said: “Our fear is that the Kraft takeover is not in the national interest, and in the months of this hostile takeover process, we have heard nothing from Kraft to calm fears that it is in the interest of the Cadbury workforce either.

“Instead, the fate of manufacturing workers in Terry’s of York, who found that Kraft ownership saw their plant close, weighs heavily on the minds of the Cadbury workforce,” added Mr Dromey.

Kraft, which is renowned for brands such as Kenco coffee and Oreo biscuits, is one of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies with annual revenues exceeding $37 billion.

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