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Will Ferrero family unity melt over Cadbury offer?

The Ferrero family, owners of the Italian confectionary company of the same name, refused to comment on speculation that it is divided over its interest in chocolate maker Cadbury.

When contacted by this morning, they returned a clear "no comment" message. Yesterday, Ferrero announced that it is considering whether to enter a bid for the UK-based company.

"Ferrero notes the recent press speculation regarding a potential offer for Cadbury. Ferrero confirms it is in the preliminary stages of evaluating its options in respect of Cadbury," the company said in a statement.
However, the bid for Cadbury would mark a departure for Ferrero from the business strategy it has previously followed – moving from internally driven growth to growth by acquisitions – and speculation has been rife that the family is divided over this potential change.

Michele Ferrero, the family patriarch, is believed to be keen to keep the business independent, while his sons Pietro and Giovanni, who jointly hold the managing director role, are supposedly more eager to get involved with Cadbury.
Cadbury has been making the headlines since US-based Kraft Foods Inc made a hostile takeover bid of £10.3 billion for the business in early October. (Click here to read our analysis of the takeover bid and the families behind it)
Speculation then arose earlier this week over a potential joint bid for Cadbury from US-based Hershey Co and Ferrero. Yesterday both Hershey and Ferrero announced their interest in Cadbury but in separate statements, each making no mention of the other company.
Ferrero is the world's fourth largest chocolate maker. Its products include Nutella spread, Kinder Surprise and Ferrero Rocher chocolates and it had 2008 revenues of €6.2 billion.
Founded by Michele's father Pietro Ferrero in 1946, the business is now in its third-generation of family management. Michele Ferrero is Italy's richest man with an estimated family fortune of $9.5 billion.


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