Shares in Cadbury Schweppes surged today after it emerged an American financier had amassed a 3% stake in the Bournville-based firm.
Nelson Peltz, a billionaire who sold fruit juice business Snapple to Cadbury in 2000, took a 5% holding in food giant Heinz last year.
Cadbury shares were up 10% today as the move by Mr Peltz, who is regarded as an activist shareholder, fuelled takeover speculation and raised the prospect of change within the UK group.
He has been chairman and chief executive of restaurants firm Triarc - the former owner of Snapple - since 1993.
Analysts said Mr Peltz’s knowledge of the North American soft drinks market indicated he clearly saw value in the business.
As well as its range of chocolate brands, Cadbury makes Dr Pepper and 7Up and recently launched its Trident chewing gum brand in the UK market.
The company endured a difficult 2006, when profits were hit by a multimillion-pound product recall as Cadbury was forced to take more than a million chocolate bars off the shelves following a salmonella outbreak.
It was also affected by adverse weather and financial irregularities in Nigeria, but still managed to deliver a 9% rise in underlying profits to #931 million.
The jump in Cadbury’s share price today comes in a week when investors have seen shares in Alliance Boots surge after a bid approach from its deputy chairman and ICI shares have risen on speculation of a possible takeover offer.