Dear Editor, I have just read my friend Jerry Blackett’s comments on the Cadbury deal with amazement. (Post, January 28)
He cannot be serious – this was not a victory for shareholder power. It was the very opposite. This was a deal built on the worst kind of greed, short-termism and self-interest that has crippled the real economy of Birmingham and this country for decades.
As Jerry must know, the deal was finally engineered by two small groups of directors and senior managers in each company – backed by discredited hedge funds and banks.
It will not create wealth except for a small number of wheeler dealers.
This was not an ailing company crying out for rescue or new management expertise.
I understand that Kraft’s own shareholders were not even given a vote. Cadbury’s two major institutional shareholders opposed the deal.
Jerry, you are naive if you believe that future prospects for Cadbury plants at Bournville, Sheffield, Dublin and elsewhere will rest on their skills base.
Labour costs, finance, subsidies and overheads will be the key drivers.
In a situation in which it is easier to sack a British manager or worker than his European counterparts, this is not an appealing prospect.
Cadbury supports a huge number of SMEs and good causes. Long term these will all suffer. They always do.
The worst scenario is that a mediocre company like Kraft will sink under the twin pressures of debt and inadequate marketing expertise.
As a confectionery company Cadbury had the benefit of a tight focus on its marketing place – which classically congomerates like Kraft have lacked.
I appreciate that Jerry, as chief executive of the Chamber, has to be friends with everyone – even Kraft (after all he needs their subscriptions) – but that should not be at the expense of the truth or reality.