Cadbury shareholders approve deal with Kraft

Cadbury PLC shareholders have approved Kraft Foods Inc.’s roughly $19.5 billion offer to acquire the British candy maker— the final step in creating the global food giant.

The focus now shifts to how Kraft will combine the companies and prove it was worth the often-bitter fight.

Kraft announced Tuesday that nearly 72 percent of Cadbury shareholders voted in support of the deal.

Together, the companies have roughly $50 billion in annual revenue through sales in 160 countries with their product lineup ranging from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. The deal gives Kraft access to critical growing international markets like India and Latin America where Cadbury thrives and ups its presence in the lucrative candy and gum market.

“This combination is about growth and it is about the opportunity to create a global powerhouse,” Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld said in an interview with The Associated Press.

However, the deal still faces some critics. Hundreds of Cadbury workers uncertain about their future protested the takeover on Tuesday in London’s Westminster area, calling for guarantees for their jobs and conditions once the company comes under new ownership.

Kraft wouldn’t say specifically if job cuts are planned but anticipates $675 million in savings from combining the two companies. Cadbury and Kraft have about 140,000 employees worldwide.