British candy manufacturer Cadbury has stepped up its defence against a hostile takeover bid from US-based Kraft Foods worth $17.4bn. “The UK-based confectionery multinational made the dividend pledge in its second formal response to Kraft’s cash-and-shares offer, which is looking more competitive than it had appeared in late 2009. The gap between the Cadbury share price and the Kraft offer narrowed last week after Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s investment vehicle, put pressure on Kraft not to offer too much of its own stock to finance a Cadbury takeover. Berkshire is the largest shareholder in Kraft, with a 9.4 per cent stake. Kraft also increased the cash component of its offer last Tuesday, after agreeing to sell its North American frozen pizza business to Nestlé, the Swiss foods group, which pledged not to make a counterbid for Cadbury. Cadbury shares fell ½p to 780½p in early trading on Monday. Based on the closing price of Kraft shares on Monday, the hostile bid is worth 764p a share.”
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