THE battle for Dairy Milk maker Cadbury has intensified with Swiss food giant Nestlé believed to be mulling a bid for the chocolatier.<br /><br />Cadbury’s flat rejection of Kraft’s £9.8bn bid has sparked a string of other companies – including Reese’s Pieces maker Hershey and Nutella maker Ferrero – into weighing up their options. <br /><br />Analysts have said that fears of Kraft and Cadbury merging to swallow a large part of the market have prompted rival firms to consider how they can derail the process.<br /><br />Industry experts said that Nestlé could sell its majority stake in eye-care firm Alcon to Novartis AG as early as next year and use the proceeds, more than $20bn (£12.1bn), to fund acquisitions – giving it more firepower than its smaller rivals Ferrero and Hershey. <br /><br />But Nestlé may also face a number of competition hurdles that could scupper a take-over.<br /><br />Hershey is believed to be pressing ahead with a $17bn bid which could trump Kraft’s bid, although yesterday there were signs that Kraft may go higher. Ferrero is also believed to be interested in making an offer, although it would need to tie-up with private equity or a partner. <br /><br />A Cadbury spokesman said: “We have always said that we would give proper consideration to any serious offer that delivers full value for the company."