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Sunday, 4 June, 2000, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Cadburys in joint 10bn Nabisco 'bid'
Chocolates in shop
The deal would strengthen Cadbury's US presence
Chocolate and soft drinks company Cadbury Schweppes is set to bid for Nabisco, the US maker of Ritz crackers and Oreo cookies.

It is set to make a joint bid with French company Danone, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The 10bn bid would be the first time a French and a UK company have made a joint bid, seen as the only way the two can match and exceed offers from the other bidders in the race to buy the US giant.

If they buy Nabisco, they will gain a foothold in the US market, the largest confectionery market in the world.

Cadbury Schweppes has declined to comment on the report.

"You would expect a company such as Cadbury Schweppes to explore the options available to it, but we have nothing further to add and no comment on the article," a Cadbury spokeswoman said.

Splitting the bid

The two companies are only interested in buying Nabisco's food group, the report said.

Danone is expected to pay 6bn of the bid, with Cadbury picking up the remaining 4bn tab.

Danone wants to get its hands on Nabisco's biscuit operations. It is the world's biggest biscuit maker, thanks to its strong sales in Europe and Asia, but lacks a US presence.

Cadbury wants its sugar confectionery operation, its food distribution business and its fruit juice business.

The UK company already produces Dr Pepper and Seven Up fizzy drinks in the US as well as Dairy Milk chocolate bars.

The race is on

If Cadbury and Danone place a joint bid, they are joining a race previously estimated to have over a dozen contenders.

Nabisco began accepting bids in April in an auction style process after rejecting an offer from financier Carl Icahn.

Speculation has been rife since then about who the potential bidders could be.

The price is expected to escalate as more bidders join the race.

Originally, financier Carl Icahn was said to be bidding $6.5bn, or $22 a share, to buy the remaining 90.4% of the company he does not own.

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See also:

16 May 00 | Business
Thirteen suitors for US food firm
29 Feb 00 | Business
Nabisco shares the biscuit
16 Feb 00 | Business
Profits sweet at Cadbury
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