ACTIVIST investor Nelson Peltz has had a two-year gagging order lifted by Kraft, sparking talk that the US food giant will now come under pressure to secure a takeover deal with Cadbury.<br /><br />Peltz’s Trian Fund Management group had struck a two-year “standstill” agreement with the US group in November 2007, under which he promised not to criticise its “corporate strategy, business, corporate activities or management” but this has now expired.<br /><br />Peltz, estimated to be worth $1.04bn (£638m), owns a stake in Kraft and also its bid target Cadbury, and in the past has used his influence as a Wall Street heavyweight to sway the management of both companies into adopting his strategy.<br /><br />Although he has not commented on a tie-up between Cadbury and Kraft, a merger would fit in with his strategy of improving margins at the businesses he owns. <br /><br />Shortly after Peltz bought a stake in Cadbury in 2007 through his Trian Fund he convinced it to carry out the demerger of its US beverage business. <br /><br />And after raising his stake in Kraft he met with Kraft’s chief executive Irene Rosenfeld and pushed her to think about divesting its lower margin brands and expand the group’s confectionary and biscuit business.<br /><br />Rosenfeld followed Peltz’s guidance and sold Kraft’s Post cereal brand to Ralcorp for $2.6bn and acquired the biscuit division of Danone for $7.2bn.<br /><br />Kraft made a £10.2bn bid for Dairy Milk maker Cadbury in September – but it was immediately rejected by Cadbury’s board as “unattractive”. <br /><br />Analysts believe Kraft will have to sweeten its offer to win Cadbury shareholder approval after it revealed a seven per cent rise in quarterly revenues.<br /><br />Kraft is understood to be considering returning with a formal offer but may wait until after its own third-quarter results on 3 November. <br /><br />The Takeover Panel has set Kraft a 9 November deadline to make a formal offer.<br /><br />Meanwhile, US investment fund Legg Mason yesterday said it had avoided a boardroom coup by giving Peltz a seat on the board.