Dairy Milk maker Cadbury will face a hostile takeover bid from US food giant Kraft tomorrow, according to reports today.
Cadbury first rejected a £10.2 billion proposal from the maker of Toblerone, Oreos biscuits and Dairylea in September.
But Kraft - which has until 5pm tomorrow to table a firm offer or walk away under takeover rules - is now set to bypass the company's board and appeal directly to shareholders.
Kraft disappointed with weak third-quarter results last week, which has impacted the value of its cash-and shares approach for Cadbury, originally worth 745p.
Cadbury's chairman Roger Carr is expected to mount a robust defence of the firm, according to the Sunday Times, saying that Kraft has turned from a "low growth conglomerate" to a "no-growth conglomerate".
Despite speculation of a bidding war for Cadbury when the approach was first revealed, rival interest from the likes of US giant Hershey has yet to emerge and consumer goods giant Unilever publicly ruled itself out of the running last week.
Although Cadbury is said to be looking for a price of at least 850p a share before even opening discussions, the lack of competition may prompt Kraft to make only a marginal improvement on its original approach, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Kraft's largest shareholder is billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has warned the company against overpaying for Cadbury. Both firms declined to comment on the reports.
In September, Kraft - whose brands also include Terry's Chocolate Orange and Kenco coffee - said a merger with Cadbury would create a "global powerhouse".
It said it hoped to keep open Cadbury's Somerdale facility near Bristol, which is currently scheduled to close, and invest in the firm's Bournville factory near Birmingham.
But Cadbury said the approach "fundamentally undervalued" the business and said that joining Kraft was an "unappealing prospect".
The firm began life as a grocer's shop in Birmingham's fashionable Bull Street in 1824. Dairy Milk is the UK's top-selling chocolate bar and in total more than 250 million are sold every year in 33 countries.Reuse content