Last Updated Sep 25, 2009 5:02 PM EDT
To quote Cadbury directly, "Mr. Stitzer does not believe that Kraft's proposal makes strategic or financial sense for Cadbury and his comments should not be interpreted in any other way."
Kraft recently made a surprise $16.7 billion bid for the British confectionery company, but Cadbury shunned the offer -- though many speculate that the company is secretly holding out for a higher price.
Cadbury's backtracking on Stitzer's statement may seem ridiculous, but the company has good reasons. The Financial Times reports that in the U.K., "companies subject to takeovers are constrained from disclosing their views on the bid selectively." Cadbury has been trying to get the U.K. Takeover Panel to set a deadline for Kraft to make its bid official, and contradictory messages could jeopardize these efforts.
But on the other side, some investors think Stitzer's other comments have been too harsh, as Kraft is unlikely to pay more.
For its part, Kraft is trying to downplay its interest. CEO Irene Rosenfeld has pledged not to overbid on Cadbury -- or, in her words, to allow the company's "animal instincts ... to take over."
Animal instincts? Seriously? Dan Mitchell at Daily Bread has described the situation as a "farce," but to me it's looking more and more like a really bad romantic comedy.