Nestl eyes up Cadbury in bid war

THE battle for Dairy Milk maker Cadbury has intensified with Swiss food giant Nestl&eacute; believed to be mulling a bid for the chocolatier.<br /><br />Cadbury&rsquo;s flat rejection of Kraft&rsquo;s &pound;9.8bn bid has sparked a string of other companies &ndash; including Reese&rsquo;s Pieces maker Hershey and Nutella maker Ferrero &ndash; 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 Nestl&eacute; 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 (&pound;12.1bn), to fund acquisitions &ndash; giving it more firepower&nbsp; than its smaller rivals Ferrero and Hershey. <br /><br />But Nestl&eacute; may also face a number of competition hurdles that could scupper a&nbsp; take-over.<br /><br />Hershey is believed to be pressing ahead with a $17bn bid which could trump Kraft&rsquo;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.&nbsp; <br /><br />A Cadbury spokesman said: &ldquo;We have always said that we would give proper consideration to any serious offer that delivers full value for the company."