Cadbury gets extension to prepare defence to foil Kraft bid

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THE City's takeover watchdog has extended the deadline for any material new information from confectionery giant Cadbury in defending the hostile £10 billion bid from US-based Kraft Foods.

The Takeover Panel said yesterday the deadline for any such information would now be moved three days to Friday, 15 January at 7am. Previously the deadline – the 39th day of the 60-day offer period – was Tuesday, 12 January, but the panel said yesterday the new deadline would allow the release of Cadbury's detailed estimated trading results for 2009.

The decision followed representations to the panel from both firms.

A Cadbury spokesman said: "We note the decision of the Takeover Panel and are pleased that our shareholders will be given the opportunity to review the most up-to-date information available on our trading performance as they evaluate the Kraft offer."

He declined to elaborate further, or to say exactly what information it would publish when. Kraft had no comment.

Both parties had accepted the ruling and nothing else in the bid timetable would change, the panel said.

Kraft's cash-and-share offer currently values Cadbury at 748p per share, 6 per cent below the British group's closing share price of 795p last night.

Cadbury raised the prospect of higher rival bids on 14 December, saying that Hershey and Italy's Ferrero had both indicated they were also contemplating offers – but no other offer has so far materialised.

Ferrero said on 27 December that it was still in the early stages of evaluating options in respect of Cadbury, after an Italian newspaper reported the privately-held group's interest had cooled.

In its defence document, Cadbury promised bigger dividends, and raised its underlying annual sales growth target.