Job fears for Chirk Cadbury workers after Kraft takeover

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

AN MP says he is ‘hugely worried’ about the future of 250 jobs at Cadbury’s Chirk plant following the takeover of the company by US food giant Kraft.

The Cadbury board has advised its shareholders to accept a new offer of 840p a share, which values the 200-year-old British company at £11.5bn ($18.9bn).
Kraft said the deal would create a “global confectionery leader”.

But there are renewed fears over possible job cuts at Cadbury’s UK operations, including Chirk, as a result of the takeover.

Cadbury shareholders have until February 2 to give their blessing to the deal.

Kraft’s offer, accepted by Cadbury bosses after a night of tense negotiations, consists of £5 in cash per share, with the rest in shares of Kraft, which is borrowing £7bn ($11.5bn) to finance the deal.

Clwyd South MP Martyn Jones, whose constituency includes Chirk, said: “I am very concerned about any takeover of a good British company like Cadbury.

“But I am particularly perturbed because Cadbury has a large plant in Chirk, which provides good quality, unionised jobs in an area where there aren’t too many other options.

“I find it astounding that the Cadbury board should consider Kraft’s earlier bid worth £10.5billion ‘derisory’ while they have now accepted one of £11.5bn, which is only about 10 per cent more.

“Another odd thing about this is that a large chunk of the offer to Cadbury shareholders will be in Kraft shares when Kraft is borrowing £11.5 billion to pay for the deal.

Mr Jones added: “I have huge worries about the jobs at Chirk.

“When they want to make savings foreign companies buying British firms often want to make savings by closing plants and moving production abroad.

“I will be seeking urgent meetings with the companies concerned and looking for assurances about the safety of the jobs at Chirk.

“I would also advise Cadbury shareholders to be very careful about accepting a bid from a foreign company that will become so heavily indebted to achieve this takeover.”

Barry Roberts, Unite convenor at the Chirk plant and chairman of the union within Cadbury, said: “The mood in the factory is that people are a bit stunned about how quickly the Cadbury board changed its mind about the Kraft offer.

“There is concern among members about long-term job security and job terms and conditions.

“There is also concern about the level of debt which will be incurred by Kraft to finance the deal because that money will have to be pulled back from somewhere.

“There is concern too about the unpredictability of all this.

“We just can’t second-guess what will happen now.”

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who serves as a business minister, said: “The Government is keeping a close eye on the situation and is mindful of the jobs involved.

“This is, ultimately, a decision for the company.

“We must not assume that outside investment is necessarily a bad thing – there have been positive examples locally where companies have benefited in such situations.

“That said, we will clearly be monitoring the position here very carefully.

“I will be doing my utmost to protect local jobs.”

See full story in the Leader

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