Cadbury Defends Strategy in Face of Peltz Criticism

20 December 2007

LONDON: Cadbury Schweppes has given short shrift to interventionist shareholder Nelson Peltz and his sabre-rattling over the confectionery giant's financial performance.

The company's board received a 14-page document from Trian Fund Management - Peltz's investment vehicle - urging it to cut costs, add several new directors and raise profit margin targets.

Peltz also warned that if Cadbury failed to take what he perceives as necessary steps, Trian "will look to become significantly more active in evaluating all of our alternatives as a large shareholder."

Trian has just increased its stake in the chocolatier to 4.5% from 3.5% and is now its third largest shareholder.

Cadbury, however, has robustly defended its performance saying: "The board is confident that the company's strategy is in the best interests of all its share owners and is pleased with the progress management are making.

"Recent trading performance has been strong, margin improvement plans are being actively executed and the beverages demerger is on track."

The spin-off of the US beverage arm, whose brands include Dr Pepper and 7-Up, was apparently prompted by Peltz's earlier demands for change.

Cadbury says it had been mulling such a split for some time and hopes to complete a deal early next year, despite difficulties triggered by the current credit squeeze.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff