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Kraft To Focus On European Brands

Wed, 09/09/2009 - 4:05am

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Kraft Foods Inc. said Wednesday it plans to focus on higher-margin, priority brands to boost productivity in Europe and will continue to cut costs as the food maker hopes to continue expanding worldwide.

Kraft, which recently made a $16.7 billion offer for Cadbury PLC, said it will focus on brands such as Milka and Cote d'Or chocolates; Oreos and Mikado biscuits; Carte Noire and Kenco coffee; and Philadelphia cream cheese. Kraft hopes this emphasis will help boost European revenue growth from businesses it already owns between 1 percent and 3 percent.

Kraft expects operating income margins will rise to the mid-teens by 2011, up from 12.3 percent in 2008.

Chief Financial Officer Tim McLevish said Kraft expects significant near-term savings in productivity as it continues to cut costs.

Earlier this week, Kraft disclosed it had offered $16.7 billion in cash and stock for Cadbury, a British candy maker. Cadbury, the second-largest global candy maker, rejected the offer, saying it wasn't high enough.

Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld is still making a case for the deal, which would expand Kraft's market presence. A Kraft-Cadbury combination would have more than $50 billion in combined revenue.

Consumers can already find Kraft's products in 150 countries worldwide, such as its namesake Kraft cheese, Maxwell House coffee and Oscar Mayer meat.

Kraft is based in Northfield, Ill.

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