Around 180 workers at Cadbury have been saved from redundancy following more than a year of talks – as rumours circulate of the parent firm of the Birmingham chocolate giant merging with Pepsi.

Long-running talks between the Unite union and Cadbury’s US owner Mondelez have safeguarded the vast majority of jobs under threat since late 2011 at Bournville..

In December 2011 the parent group, then under the Kraft banner, announced 200 jobs were to go in the biggest jobs cull since the controversial £11.7 billion US takeover of Cadbury was completed in February 2010.

But Unite regional official Joe Clarke revealed a reduction in agency workers and negotiations around overtime had saved the overwhelming majority of jobs under threat at Cadbury.

This comes as reports claim a major US investor could see Pepsi and Mondelez united under a giant fund management firm.

Speaking of the Midland jobs, Mr Clarke said: “We are still ticking over with the consultation process but we estimate that there are only about 20 leavers – we are not allowing agency people to be holding down core jobs at the same time that we are looking at a redundancy situation.

“If we had allowed them to go ahead and go through the redundancy process we would increase the ratio of agency to core jobs. There are only about 27 core jobs being done by agency workers at the moment whereas it was about 80 to start with.

“The company has benefited out of this because these agency workers are paid the same as our core guys and they have achieved savings through this process.

“Considering we are 15 months into a consultation process, we have done a very good job in relation to the manufacturing side – the company has been working very well with us.”

Mr Clarke said more workers were expected to leave Cadbury through natural wastage. “There will be a scenario where more people will leave the business but these people will go naturally. And we are taking on apprentices each year as well – we are talking about between six and 10 manufacturing apprentices.”

The successful jobs negotiations come over a year after the expiry of a two-year truce on manufacturing job losses announced with the completion of the Cadbury takeover in the winter of 2010.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports have emerged suggesting that Nelson Peltz, one of America’s best-known corporate raiders, could trigger a £112 billion merger of PepsiCo and Mondelez after buying major stakes in the two consumer giants.

Weekend reports said the 71 year-old investor had been building shareholdings in both Pepsi and Mondelez via his vehicle Trian Fund Management.

The reports said the exact sizes of the stakes in the two US-listed companies remained unclear, although speculation claims there are plans for a £1.3 billion-plus buying spree.

However, it is claimed that the size of the holdings under the investor’s control could be even larger as sources say other investors have been providing backing for the stakebuilding venture via special purpose vehicles.

Mr Peltz, a New Yorker from Brooklyn is worth £572 million, according to Forbes magazine. One of his most notable investments in a British company was his acquisition of a stake in Cadbury Schweppes in late 2006.

Just days after Cadbury disclosed that Trian had acquired a near three per cent shareholding in 2007, the company said it would split into two businesses, one focused on drinks, such as Snapple and Dr Pepper, the other on confectionery, including Dairy Milk.

Mr Peltz and Trian Fund Management have not commented on the speculation.