Cadbury Cool to Talk of Takeover Bid

From Reuters

British drinks and chocolates group Cadbury Schweppes PLC said Wednesday that any move by General Cinema Corp. to take it over would be unwelcome.

London analysts meanwhile speculated the Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based theater operator might be trying to attract a buyer for Cadbury and thus increase the value of its own 17.7% stake in the British company.

Cadbury said it was seeking clarification of General Cinema's statement on Tuesday that it may raise its holding, sell its holding, or seek control of the company or a portion of its business.

"The options in the statement were vague. We are not clear what their intentions are. We are waiting and trying to get further clarification," said Chris Milburn, investor relations director at Cadbury.

"Our attitude is unchanged . . . Any attempt at involvement in management of the company would be unwelcome," Milburn said.

He said Cadbury was not seeking clarification from General Cinema directly but was being told by its own advisers what General Cinema's intentions might be. General Cinema previously had said it was a passive investor.

"It looks like (General Cinema) is talking up the shares," said a London analyst, who asked not to be identified. "Why have they bothered to file with the (Securities and Exchange Commission) and herald their intentions? They could have raised the stake to 25% without further filing."

Some Wall Street analysts said they doubted General Cinema would actually launch a hostile takeover bid, which would cost some $3.5 billion, but they speculated it might want to exchange its holdings for one of Cadbury's units, its soft drink and mixer business, for instance. General Cinema is the largest independent Pepsi-Cola bottler in the United States.

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