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Thursday 04th of February 2010
February 3, 2010    

Mandelson expresses ‘disappointment’ after meeting with Kraft chief

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by Kay Murchie

Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson said he was “disappointed” that Kraft could not guarantee that Cadbury’s confectionery brands will continue to be managed in the UK.

Mandelson met with Kraft chief executive, Irene Rosenfeld, last night after Cadbury shareholders voted in favour of the £11.5 billion ($18.9 billion) takeover deal from the US food giant.

The vote brought an end to Kraft’s five-month battle to take control of the 186-year-old iconic British confectioner, renowned for Dairy Milk.

The takeover has long been strongly opposed by Lord Mandelson and he recently 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.”

Cadbury workers staged a protest yesterday calling for Government support to guarantee jobs.

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

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.

Speaking after last night’s meeting, Lord Mandelson said he is now looking for “much harder, more specific commitments in the next three to six months”.

“I was disappointed that she [Irene] was unable to confirm that Cadbury’s confectionery brands will continue to be managed and operated globally out of the UK.

“On the other hand she said that she expects Britain to be a net gainer in manufacturing output and employment so that was encouraging, but what we’ve got to do now is to remain in close touch,” concluded Lord Mandelson.

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