Mondelez, the American company behind the chocolate maker Cadbury, could once again become part of the processed cheese group Kraft if an activist hedge fund manager gets his way.
The US investor Bill Ackman has snapped up a 7.5 per cent stake in Mondelez worth $5.5bn (£3.5bn), in the hope of influencing the company to enact more cost-cutting measures and potentially re-merge with Kraft, which itself recently joined forces with Heinz, the ketchup group owned by the investor Warren Buffett and the Brazilian investment group 3G.
Mondelez has already revealed a series of cost-cutting measures, and vowed to introduce zero-based budgeting, where managers must justify every expense. But a merger is more likely and would come three years after Mondelez found itself being stalked by the veteran US activist Nelson Peltz, who wanted it to merge with Pepsi-Co’s snacks division.
Mr Ackman, and his investment vehicle Pershing Square, knows the Mondelez chief executive, Irene Rosenfeld, as he was an investor in Cadbury during its controversial transatlantic takeover by Kraft in 2009. That bid was spearheaded by Ms Rosenfeld, who infamously refused to attend a parliamentary select committee hearing on the sale.
Mr Ackman has also invested in the food sector before, taking an 11 per cent stake in Burger King before its merger with the Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons, which was backed by 3G and Mr Buffett.