MILAN: Italian confectioner Ferrero SpA has met private equity firms as well as Hershey Co to discuss a possible bid for Britain's Cadbury Plc, the Il Sole 24 Ore daily reported on Saturday.

The coming weeks would determine whether the family-held company would make an offer for the confectionery maker rivalling a hostile £10bil bid from US food group Kraft Foods Inc, the newspaper said.

Ferrero had met in recent weeks with private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Blackstone Group LP to discuss Cadbury, Il Sole 24 Ore said, citing financial sources.

Ferrero also had talked over an offer in recent weeks with Hershey, with the goal of an alliance that could offset Kraft's bid, the paper said.

A Ferrero spokesman was not immediately available for comment. The company said on Dec 27 that nothing had changed in its position that it was in the preliminary stages of evaluating options on Cadbury.

Britain's Takeover Panel gave Cadbury three extra days last week to publish 2009 results that could become a key plank in it defence against Kraft's hostile bid.

Cadbury said on Dec 14 that Hershey and Ferrero had both indicated they were also contemplating bids. - Reuters

Source: The Star; Starbiz; Monday, January 4 2010