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Kraft’s Danone acquisition cleared by the European Commission

BY Allison Cerra

NORTHFIELD, Ill. Kraft Foods announced it is cleared to propose an acquisition of a global biscuit business, courtesy of the European Commission’s approval.

The announcement comes after Kraft’s offer to acquire the Groupe Danone in July and the signing of the sale agreement with the company at the end of October.

Based on this clearance made by the European Commission, and additional anticipated clearances, the company remains on track to complete the deal before 2008.

Under the agreement, Kraft must divest brands and facilities in Spain and Hungary. The required divestments, Kraft said, will not negatively affect the performance or potential of the combined business.

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Kraft nominates Juliber, Zarb for board

BY Tara Smith

NORTHFIELD, Ill. Kraft Foods has nominated two independent members endorsed by activist investor Nelson Peltz to its board of directors.

Lois Juliber, 58, retired vice chairman and chief operating officer of Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Frank Zarb, 72, managing director of private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC were tapped today to fill the vacant board positions.

Peltz, whose hedge-fund firm, Trian Fund Management LP, with a stake of more than 2 percent in Kraft, has signed a standstill agreement with the company to vote for all of Kraft’s board nominees for the next two election cycles and not to increase its stake in the company to more than 9.9 percent

Peltz also has been pressing Kraft, the world’s second-largest packaged food company, to focus on its strongest brands. The company recently revealed plans to increase overseas presense by acquiring Groupe Danone SA’s global biscuits business and announced the sale of its Veryfine and Fruit?O beverage brands.

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Fiji Water goes green

BY Tara Smith

Fiji Fiji Water is about to make a big splash in the domestic bottled water industry, announcing plans Wednesday to become carbon negative, that is, to make more than make up for the greenhouse gasses released in the production of its product. The company also announced goals for using renewable energy, preserving forests and conserving water.

“Our existence has been a strong net positive for the economy of Fiji, and we don’t want to be any less than that on climate change,” said Thomas Mooney, Fiji Water’s senior vice president for sustainable growth.

As part of its plans, the company will install a windmill in 2009 to provide energy to its bottling plant in Fiji, located in the South Pacific, will employ biodiesel and other alternative fuels in its trucks and as a backup at its plant and it will reduce the amount of plastic and paper it uses for bottles and cartons. The Fiji Water Foundation, let by Fiji’s owners Lynda and Stewart Resnick, has pledged money to protect the Yarqara Valley watershed, the main source of Fiji Water, and to preserve the Sovi Basin, a rainforest that is home to many plant and animal species.

The announcement comes after a period in which environmental groups attacked the bottled-water industry for selling an unnecessary product at great environmental cost, thought Mooney argues Fiji’s plans were in the works long before that.

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