American food giant Kraft seeks comms advice as Cadbury merger looms

US food conglomerate Kraft has beefed up its communications arsenal as its troubled £10.5bn takeover bid for Cadbury reaches a critical stage.

Culture clash: Cadbury fighting advances by Kraft
Culture clash: Cadbury fighting advances by Kraft

The US company has called in Edelman to provide strategic PR advice on a post-merger scenario, despite widespread speculation that its hostile acquisition offer will be rejected by Cadbury shareholders next week.

The agency has already started work on the account, providing 'preliminary strategic counsel', said Kraft VP of corporate affairs Nancy Daigler. 'We're far enough into the tender process that it makes sense for us to proceed with this work,' she added.

The value of the account is expected to rocket to as much as $4m (£2.5m) should Kraft's bid for the UK chocolate maker prove successful.

After the merger, if it goes ahead, Edelman will aim to manage comms around corporate integration, and reassure the combined company's employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.

A source close to the review said: 'It is about trying to return to a sense of "business as usual" quickly. One thing, for example, is that Kraft doesn't want Cadbury shareholders to cash in and leave.'

Cadbury has mounted a strong defence against the bid, aided by Finsbury. Attention has focused on the differing cultures of the firms.

'The heritage of the Cadbury brand is very much rooted in the world of social responsibility,' said another source involved in the pitch. 'How does Kraft preserve those values?'

Edelman secured the account after a pitch that included Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman-Hillard and Weber Shandwick.

For opinion see Anthony Hilton's column

Latest bid moves

Cadbury chairman Roger Carr has urged shareholders not to let Kraft 'steal' the British confectionery group after the US food group's £10.5bn hostile offer.

Henley Business School dean Chris Bones pointed to Cadbury's strong CSR heritage, saying this was not matched by Kraft.

The Unite union has said that a successful bid could cost jobs at Cadbury UK.

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