US giant Kraft’s five-month battle for control of iconic confectioner Cadbury should be sealed today when it unveils the level of support for its takeover offer.
The cash-and-shares deal - recommended by the Cadbury board two weeks ago - currently values the Bournville firm at around £11.4 billion.
Shareholders have until 1pm today to accept the Oreos-to-Toblerone maker’s offer, which would end the independent heritage of Cadbury stretching back to 1824.
To win control, Kraft must gain support from those holding a straightforward majority of the shares - or else it is not allowed to make another bid for the firm for a year.
If its offer is accepted by investors holding 75% or more of the stock, it can delist the company’s shares from the London Stock Exchange.
Today is also the last day for another potential bidder to enter the fray - which would restart the 60-day takeover timetable - although this is extremely unlikely after US firm Hershey and Italian chocolatier Ferrero both ruled themselves out of the running.
Kraft hopes that its takeover will create a “global confectionery leader” - making the combined group world number one in the chocolate and sugar confectionery market and “a strong number two” for chewing gum.
Cadbury was first approached by Kraft last August but accused it of trying to buy the firm “on the cheap” with its lower original offer. The board relented two weeks ago when Kraft upped its bid.
Cadbury employs around 45,000 people in 60 countries, with 5,600 staff at eight manufacturing sites in the UK and Ireland, including a facility in Somerdale near Bristol, which is currently scheduled to close, as well as its Bournville factory in Birmingham.
But Birmingham MPs and trade unions have voiced concerns over the danger to British jobs from a takeover that could saddle the combined company with mammoth debts.
Cadbury workers are lobbying the Government in central London for support to win jobs and investment guarantees from their new employer ahead of the expected takeover.