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Hershey Works On Solo Bid For Cadbury

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The Hershey Co. is assembling a bid to acquire British candy maker Cadbury PLC without the help of Italian candy maker Ferrero International, a person familiar with Hershey’s plans told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the company that bid first, American food giant Kraft, continued to defend its offer and issued an earnings forecast that may have been intended to show off its strength.

Hershey has been working on two parallel bids for Cadbury, one with Ferrero and one on its own. But Ferrero reportedly has withdrawn. Hershey is still crafting its own potential bid, one designed to top the $16.5 billion hostile offer from Kraft Foods Inc., the person familiar with Hershey said.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorised to speak publicly about the matter, said Hershey hoped to avoid a bidding war by waiting until Cadbury’s shareholders make a decision on Kraft’s bid.

Kraft has until February 2 to win support from a majority of shareholders. It said last week that it had received acceptance from holders of 1.5 percent of Cadbury shares to date. Kraft’s deadline to increase its bid is January 19.

A spokesman for the maker of Hershey’s Kisses and Reese’s peanut butter cups said that, as a matter of policy, the company does not comment on merger and acquisition issues.

Cadbury shares rose, adding 12.5 pence, or 1.6 percent, to close at 789.50 on the London Stock Exchange. Hershey shares fell $1.14 to $36.61 in trading Wednesday.

An Italian business daily reported Wednesday that Ferrero International SA is no longer interested in bidding for Cadbury. The paper, il Sole 24 Ore, cited unidentified sources close to the family-run Italian firm.

Ferrero did not comment on the report.

Any bid for Cadbury would involve bringing jobs and assets to Hershey, while voting control of the company would remain with the charitable trust set up by its late founder, Milton S. Hershey, the person said.

In addition to borrowing money, a Hershey acquisition of Cadbury may require the issuance of new shares. However, the Hershey Trust Co. has maintained that it will not give up control of the company, a stance that analysts say limits the company’s flexibility to grow through a merger.

In November, Hershey and Ferrero told the London Stock Exchange they were considering an offer for Cadbury but cautioned one might not materialise.

Without a well-financed partner, analysts question how Hershey, America’s most recognisable name in chocolate, alone can afford the acquisition of the larger Cadbury.

Hershey posted revenue of $5.13 billion in 2008, while Cadbury reported $7.8 billion in 2008.

On Wednesday, Kraft maintained that it would be the best partner for Cadbury. Kraft shares fell 6 cents to $29.23.

If Kraft does win Cadbury, it would combine the world’s second-largest food maker with one of the world’s largest confectioners.

But Kraft, based in Northfield, Ill., is under pressure from its biggest shareholder, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, not to sweeten its offer with more shares, which he believes are undervalued. And it’s unclear what move Kraft will make now.

Analysts,  worrying Kraft will overpay if it gets into a bidding war and wouldn’t see long-term gains from an acquisition as a result,  have been cautious.

Cadbury has staunchly opposed a Kraft takeover. On Tuesday, Cadbury’s brass again urged shareholders to vote against the deal and criticized Kraft’s business model.

But Tuesday’s boost in Kraft’s full-year profit outlook was the second in two months. After logging profit gains, Kraft now expects to report earning at least $2 per share for 2009. It earlier forecast profit of at least $1.97 per share. The new outlook is in line with analyst expectations, but some analysts were critical.

“It’s a blatant attempt to spin the news,” said D.A. Davidson & Co. analyst Tim Ramey. Kraft moved its guidance to meet Wall Street expectations on a quarter that ended two weeks ago, he said.

Kraft may also be setting the stage for a graceful exit from bidding for Cadbury.

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CBN Opens N500 Grants Portal For Graduates, Undergraduates

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To reduce the level of suffering associated with unemployment in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has developed grants of N500,000.00 for graduates and students.
A statement from the apex bank, made available to The Tide, said qualified persons have been directed to visit cbnties.com.ng portal for the CBN N500k grants registration.
This, according to the statement, is under the Tertiary Institution Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), in partnership with Nigerian Polytechnics and Universities to exploit the potential of graduate entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
CBN said the aim of TIES is to increase access to finance for Nigerian polytechnic and university graduates and graduates with innovative business and technological ideas.
The apex bank added that it is also to address the trend of white-collar job seekers and focus on job creation.
The statement quoted the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as saying that the scheme is designed to create a “paradigm shift from a ‘white-collar’ job search culture to an entrepreneurial culture to economic growth and job creation between undergraduates and graduates.
“As for the grant, CBN will allocate N500 million among the top five third best delivery organizations.
“The top five polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with the best entrepreneurial trends/ideas will be awarded first place: N150 million second place N120 million third place N80 million fourth place N80 million and fifth place. Location – N50 m illion”, it stated.
As part of the scheme, the CBN has announced that it will form a private and public sector expert organization (BoE) for two-year regional and national entrepreneurship competitions to assess the entrepreneurial and technological innovations offered by Nigerian polytechnics and universities.
BoE will also recommend high-potential projects and the variable impact on the award of the grant.
Projects funded under the scheme will be monitored by independent monitors set up jointly by CBN and MFIs.

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Economic Growth, Determining Factor For Policies In 2023  – Stockbrokers

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Chairman of Research and Technology at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Akeem Oyewale, has said that economic growth and development should be the determining factor in policies ahead of 2023.
Oyewale, who said this recently at the institute’s Annual National Economic Review and Outlook 2022 webinar  in Lagos, urged policy makers to act in a spirit of justice and tolerance to avoid acts that could lead to violence in the run-up to the 2023.
Speaking on the topic: “Global Dynamics Shaping Nigeria‘s Economic Future”, Oyewale listed factors such as the process leading up to the 2023 general elections, the response to Omicron, and the effects of COVID-19, as what would also determine the growth of the nation’s economic development.
He used the fora to urge the Federal Government to intensify its engagement with Nigeria’s capital market to better smoothly finance the 2022 budget deficit without increasing borrowing.
Oyewale also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fully consider the effects on the capital market when making monetary and fiscal policies.
According to him, the philosophy of building an economy led by the private sector enshrined in the National Development Plan must be strictly adhered to.
On the need for new listings, Oyewale said Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s trading should continue with the public listing of its shares on the stock market.
This, he explained, would give Nigerians the opportunity to co-own one of the country’s commanding heights.
“The CBN and banks should grant trading facilities to securities trading firms in the country to maintain optimism in the capital market”, he said.
Speaking further, he urged pension funds and other institutional investors to increase their investment in the stock market to create much-needed stability and encourage new investment.
Earlier, President of the CIS Council, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe,  said the institute would continue with initiatives that would enhance its growth and development in 2022.
Amolegbe stated that CIS would undertake activities that would promote capital market literacy in all geopolitical zones of the country, saying that he would strengthen collaboration with international professional bodies such as CISI UK and others for the benefit of their members.
He continued that the institute was working to increase the number of Nigerian universities offering graduate and undergraduate courses in securities and investment/capital market studies.
“Our vision by 2023 is to see the Securities and Investments profession registered in the hearts of young Nigerian academics as their preferred career path and CIS as the model to be followed by other professional bodies,” he concluded.

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PenCom Completes Review Of Pension Reform Act 2014

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The regulatory body of the Nigerian Pension Industry, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) says it has deliberated on the review of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014).
This was contained in a statement to newsmen signed by Peter Aghahowa, Head, Corporate Communications of PenCom, who disclosed that the regulator organised the retreat on the review of PRA 2014 in Abuja between January 12 and 14.
According to Aghahowa, the retreat was aimed at identifying salient issues to be reviewed in the PRA 2014 as a prelude to advancing legislative action on the bill.
Aghahowa said it is expected that the National Assembly would subsequently organise a public hearing to provide an avenue for stakeholders to formally make input into the proposed amendments.
He also said that the PRA 2014 was enacted following a review of the initial PRA of 2004, which introduced legal and institutional frameworks of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and established PenCom to regulate and supervise all pension matters in Nigeria.
According to him, the Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, during the opening ceremony of the retreat, had informed the participants that the PRA 2014 codified one of the most important socio-economic reform initiatives of the Federal Government.
He continued that she said this has brought about a pension industry that has accumulated pension assets in excess of N13 trillion invested in various aspects of the Nigerian economy.
He quoted her as saying that “the review is a corollary to some implementation challenges encountered with certain sections of the Act not long after its enactment in July 2014.
“This was also an addition to persistent calls from stakeholders for the amendment of some sections of the Act, which resulted in several legislative initiatives through the sponsorship of Bills for amendment of the PRA 2014 by the National Assembly.
“Consequently, the Commission as the regulator of the pension industry, decided to coordinate and harmonize the various efforts in order to achieve a comprehensive and constructive exercise for the review of PRA 2014”, he concluded.

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