“We can run this better without you!” “No you can’t!” “You want us on the cheap!” “It’s a fair offer!” “Isn’t Isn’t Isn’t!” “Is, Is, Is!” “Oh OK, we’ll pay a bit more then.” “Oh fine we’ll accept.”
And thus another “hard fought” takeover battle limps to its predictable conclusion. A victory for market driven capitalism and an injection of new ideas and energy into the UK economy, or a sad case of yet another key British company being sold into foreign ownership with the inevitable consequences for jobs and investment.
I will leave that for you, dear reader, to decide, although the opposing viewpoints are well presented by John Stepek of Money Week, and Alex Brummer of the Daily Mail.
What I would say is that whole Cadbury issue has been a sideshow, and a symptom of the post war British focus on job preservation over job creation. Of Cadbury’s 45,000 odd employees, less than 5,000 were based in the UK. Whoever had owned Cadbury, it is unlikely that this number would have increased significantly, and it is more than likely that it would have declined over time.
The UK needs to create over a million new jobs if it is to get back to the peak employment levels of 2007-2008. These new jobs are not going to come from businesses like Cadbury. Aside from the public sector (which for obvious reasons is not going to go on a recruiting spree anytime soon), the only way that we are going to get what is in effect an exponential increase in jobs is by developing high growth entrepreneurial companies providing goods and services to growth markets.
To be fair, the government often makes the right noises about creating the right environment for such businesses, but sadly as it is easier to regulate and dabble in showcase schemes, than create a cultural change, that is what tends to happen.
However, we have to accept that the economic conditions of the noughties are unlikely to return, and that if we want to get back to the levels of confidence and prosperity that we enjoyed during that period, then we need a business culture where concerns about takeover battles such as Cadbury take second place to the real issues surrounding job and wealth creation.