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http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_23/b4231096738061.htm

Hard Choices

Kraft's CEO on the Cadbury Uproar


Cadbury was a compelling strategic opportunity for us, but I knew there were enormous sensitivities. It was a hostile transaction. It was a transatlantic takeover of an iconic U.K. brand. Shareholders like Warren Buffett expressed concern that we were using stock. There was a public outcry. I had hoped it would be a friendlier transaction, but the challenge was that the target wasn't anxious to be acquired.

We spent a lot of time thinking about how best to approach all stages of the deal. When we were asked to appear before a U.K. parliamentary committee, I made the decision that only those closest to the business should go. I didn't feel there was a need for me to attend. We had answered all their questions; there was no new information. We'd met with lawmakers and addressed these issues. I've spent a lot of time in the U.K. with the folks that really matter to me, employees and other constituents. Appearing before the panel was not the best use of my personal time.

I've been surprised by the extent of the coverage around that decision. Public relations are critically important to Kraft (KFT); I care greatly about how our shareholders, our employees, and our consumers feel about this company. But we need to be selective in addressing concerns. As we accomplish our objectives, a lot of concerns will fall away. There's been a lot of hype, and one of the challenges with the U.K. media is that they're not always accurate.

It's tempting to get distracted by a lot of the theater that goes around. One has to have a rather thick skin when you sit in a role like mine. At the end of the day, one of the strengths of women is our willingness to not get bogged down with political distractions and manage for the long term. My main criterion is whether I'm doing right by my shareholders. We're honoring and, in many cases, exceeding our commitments. Even Warren sees the value for the overall performance of Kraft.


The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch
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