Kraft ( KFT) is being anything but crafty in its latest maneuver to buy Cadbury ( CBY). But don't take our word for it, just ring up Warren Buffett. In yet another twist to the long running saga, Kraft announced this week its plan to sell its North American frozen pizza business to Nestle for $3.7 billion. Kraft said it plans to use the proceeds to raise the cash share of its $16.4 billion bid for British candy maker Cadbury. Boy, those two companies must have bonded over some late night pizza negotiations, because Nestle also conveniently declared it is not interested in acquiring Cadbury on Tuesday. That leaves Hershey ( HSY) without a potential partner and Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld with a Jan. 19 deadline to raise her bid.
But she better not up it a single penny (or pence), warns Buffett, CEO of Kraft's single largest shareholder Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK-A). Berkshire announced Tuesday morning that it voted against Kraft's proposal to issue shares to finance part of the bid, saying it was worried it gave Kraft a "blank check" to raise the price even higher. Buffett previously has said Kraft's prior offers were adequate for Cadbury. "We are listening to shareholders," said Kraft spokesman Michael Mitchell. " Buffett is certainly one of the most respected investors in the world, and we take his opinion seriously." As for Cadbury, they aren't listening at all. The company dismissed Kraft's latest offer Tuesday, labeling it "derisory." We here at the Five Dumbest Lab advise Rosenfeld not to further irritate the Oracle of Omaha. Buffett can live without the deal getting done. If Kraft walks away with nothing after all this high-profile bungling, however, then it will most likely be Goodnight Irene. Dumb-o-meter score: 75 -- This chocolate merger has been anything but sweet for Kraft's Rosenfeld.