By Ray Fleming

THE Cadbury take-over by Kraft still rankles. There are certain companies and products that seem -- however illogically -- to epitomise a certain Britishness. In the Kraft case the loss of a company that combined a quality product with an enlightened employment policy was made worse by promises about job security from its new owner that could not be kept. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, knows all about the emotional appeal of the London bus, especially the old red ones that he wants to bring back in a new design. Yet Deutsche Bahn owns 20 per cent of the London bus market and the largest Parisian public transport company RATP has its eye on a slice as well.

Strictly speaking there is nothing that can be done to prevent such deals in a global free market. But British companies seem more vulnerable than those in many other countries. It is good news, therefore, that the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, is looking at this area to see whether any legislation is needed to give British companies a better chance of resisting foreign approaches in cases where their sale would have implications beyond purely financial considerations. Mr Cable has in front of him a highly critical report on the Kraft take-over by the relevant Select Committee of MPs. An increase in shareholder approval of a take-over to two-thirds from the present one-half is one suggestion well worth consideration.


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