Belfast Telegraph

Workers protest as Kraft gets Cadbury

By Holly Williams and Russell Lynch

US food giant Kraft finally won its five-month battle for control of Cadbury yesterday after shareholders backed its takeover offer.

The vote paves the way for Kraft to snap up the iconic British chocolate maker - ending its 186-year history as an independent company.

Kraft's cash-and-shares deal, recommended by the Cadbury board two weeks ago, values the UK firm at around £11.4bn.

The result came as hundreds of Cadbury workers staged a noisy protest in Westminster to call for guarantees for their jobs and conditions.

They pressed for a new law to be introduced to prevent any more British 'icons' being bought up by a foreign firm.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson met Kraft management, including chief executive Irene Rosenfeld, to seek reassurances about the conglomerate's plans for Cadbury.

As of yesterday, investors holding 71.7% of Cadbury's shares had backed the takeover.

When the US giant passes the 75% threshold it will take the company off the stock market, and when it reaches 90% support it can automatically buy up the remaining shares.

Ms Rosenfeld said the combined business had a 'phenomenal future'.

"Together we have impressive global reach and an unrivalled portfolio of iconic brands, with tremendous growth potential.

"I warmly welcome Cadbury employees into the Kraft Foods family and look forward to meeting many of them in the days and weeks ahead."

Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, called for 'cast-iron guarantees' over jobs.

Speaking at the demonstration, he said: "This is a sad day for Britain. A world class sector of British excellence is being taken over by a debt-laden US company.

"We now want cast iron guarantees from Kraft about the future for workers, and we want the Government to act as guarantor."

He said: "This must never happen again. The law must change to prevent hostile takeovers of successful British companies. We need a Cadbury law. We want Kraft to sit down with the unions to discuss the future."