Kraft Foods $19.5 Billion takeover of Cadbury ends nearly 200 years of independence for the British chocolate maker.
The mega merger, one of the biggest such deals ever, came after months of negotiation and fierce resistance from Cadbury.
Cadbury began as a small grocer’s shop in Birmingham, England, in 1824, founded by John Cadbury. He began his business selling cocoa and drinking chocolate. As a devote Quaker, Cadbury wanted to offer a beverage alternative to alcohol. It wasn’t until 1831 that he began to manufacture chocolate on a larger commercial scale, and soon he turned the business over to his sons.
Carrying on the Quaker family values, the sons tried to better the social conditions of the Cadbury workers, and the company created an entire village in Bournville, near Birmingham.
After the turn of the century the company created its famous Dairy Milk chocolate bar, which is still popular today. In the 1960’s, Cadbury merged with beverage giant Schweppes, but the two firms parted company in 2008.
The British government has expressed concern over the threat of job losses that could result from the merger with Kraft, and some Britons fear that the U.S. food giant may tinker with the taste or texture of the chocolate maker’s products, which made Cadbury one of England’s best-loved brands. But Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld tried to reassure Cadbury fans. “We have great respect for Cadbury’s brands, heritage and people,” Rosenfeld said. “We believe they will thrive as part of Kraft Foods.”
The merger of the two firms would create the world’s largest candy company, replacing Mars, Inc., which would move down to second place.