EU: Kraft has offered changes to Cadbury deal

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2009 9:08 AM

European Union regulators said Wednesday that Kraft Foods Inc. had put forward possible changes to its hostile 9.8 billion pound ($16.3 billion) takeover of Cadbury PLC to soothe antitrust worries.

The European Commission gave no details when it said it was extending a deadline by 10 working days _ from Dec. 14 to Jan. 6 _ to examine commitments made by Kraft, based in Northfield, Illinois.

By that date, the EU's executive must approve the deal or open an in-depth probe that would examine problems more closely.

Kraft spokesman Michael Mitchell said the company did not expect to make "material divestments" _ which might mean selling off assets or business divisions _ to win EU approval.

"We are cooperating with the commission and working through the approval process," he said in an emailed response to a query. "As part of that process, we have submitted remedies in a few affected markets."

Companies often sell off units but can also make binding commitments, such as offering licenses more widely, to eliminate competition problems identified by EU regulators.

London-based Cadbury, the maker of Dairy Milk chocolate and Dentyne gum, plans to publish its formal response to the Kraft deal on Dec. 14.

Kraft, the maker of Oreo cookies, Nabisco crackers and its namesake cheese, took its offer straight to shareholders of the British candy company on Friday. In doing so, it bypassed the Cadbury board, which had already rejected an almost identical offer last month as "derisory."


Associated Press writer Mae Anderson in New York contributed to this report.