Buzz continues, but Mondelez stays mum on Hershey

Analyst suggests Illinois company may itself be buyout target

Buzz continues to surround Mondelez International and whether the Illinois snack maker might make another pitch for The Hershey Co.

Just don’t look for any official confirmation.

According to CNBC, analyst Pablo Zuanic today upgraded his rating on Mondelez from neutral to positive, citing his belief that the company is likely either to merge with Hershey or be acquired by some other food and beverage group.

Zuanic on Friday told the Chicago Tribune that Kraft Heinz could be interested in Mondelez, which might be driving the pressure to acquire Dauphin County-based Hershey first.

Hershey’s board on June 30 rejected a $23 billion purchase proposal from Mondelez, whose brands include Oreo Cookies. The company was spun off from the former Kraft Foods in 2012, before Kraft merged with H.J. Heinz last year.

Mondelez spokesman Michael Mitchell today told CPBJ he is “unable to say anything beyond” a statement he provided on July 14, in which he confirmed that the original offer had been made and indicated the company would not comment further.

“I’m not able to answer specific questions,” Mitchell added.

One specific question was whether Mondelez has been working on any Hershey-related matters with Centerview Partners, an investment banking firm that previously advised Mondelez on other multibillion-dollar transactions — the firm’s partners, according to its website, include former Hershey CEO Dave West.

Centerview did not respond to a request for comment.

West, who spent a decade at Hershey and had been CEO since 2007, departed in 2011 to become CEO of Del Monte Foods Co. He was replaced by John Bilbrey.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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