Updated from 2:42 a.m. EST



) --

Kraft Foods


said Tuesday



defense of its $16.3 billion takeover offer only reinforces Kraft's belief there is a "compelling strategic and financial rationale" to merge the two companies.

Kraft, on its Web site Tuesday, said it will continue to "maintain a disciplined approach with respect to the acquisition of Cadbury in line with the criteria outlined in our offer documentation."

On Monday, Cadbury said its board unanimously

rejected a takeover offer from Kraft

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, reiterating that the offer was "wholly inadequate" and recommended shareholders reject the bid. Cadbury, for the second time since Kraft launched its offer, called the bid from Kraft "derisory."

Kraft reiterated Tuesday that its offer for Cadbury represented a "substantial" premium to Cadbury's share price, and said a merger would "provide the potential for meaningful revenue synergies and significant cost savings, delivering substantially more value than Cadbury could achieve on its own."

Kraft questioned Cadbury's long-term growth targets, saying Cadbury is "asking its shareholders to put their faith in possible future value creation based on a set of long-term targets, never before achieved by Cadbury and subject to significant risk and uncertainty." Kraft also said Cadbury has chosen to concentrate on long-term goals, with "very little information on its prospects for 2010."

Kraft said it believes its current trading and prospects are "strong," but its share price has suffered since the Sept. 7 announcement of a possible bid for Cadbury.

Kraft said the stock's performance was of a "short-term nature," and would dissipate once there is clarity over its offer for Cadbury. Kraft shares closed Monday at $26.97, up 18 cents. The share price actually has risen since it closed at $26.16 on Sept. 8.

Cadbury shares were trading at 793 pence. Kraft's bid is valued at 729 pence.

Kraft also said Tuesday the waiting period under the U.S. Hart-Scott-Rodino Act has now expired and the U.S. competition condition to the Cadbury offer is now satisfied.

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-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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