Buffett buffets Krafts takeover of Cadbury

NEW YORK: Billionaire Warren Buffett has said he remains opposed to the Kraft Foods takeover of Britain’s Cadbury, pointing out that it may hurt the value of shares that he owns in the US food giant.

“I have a lot of doubts about the deal,” Buffett told CNBC television yesterday after the $19 billion takeover deal was announced, with Cadbury dropping opposition to a sweetened bid. “If I had a chance to vote on this I’d vote ‘no’,” he said.

The deal would make US-based Kraft, the world’s second-biggest food company, one of the biggest global players in chocolate and confections, giving the US group the brands of Dairy Milk and Creme Egg to go along with Kraft’s Toblerone, Milka, Suchard and Cote d’Or, among others.

Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, believed to be the largest Kraft shareholder with a 9.4 per cent stake, earlier this month opposed a plan to authorize the issuance of up to 370 million shares for the acquisition.

Buffett said that although the deal was restructured, it still uses shares in Kraft that are likely below their fair value, thus making the acquisition more expensive.

“I think Kraft is still undervalued, just not as undervalued as it was three weeks ago,” he said, while indicating that he would keep his shares for now. Issuing more stock, Buffett said, “hurts the value” of Kraft shares further.