Italian chocolate maker Ferrero could be interested in Cadbury's gum and candy division, a unit worth about 5 billion euros ($7.4 billion), in a possible joint takeover bid, business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said on Friday.
Unlisted Ferrero and U.S.-based Hershey Co are considering a joint offer for the British confectioner, which is the target of a hostile bid from Kraft Foods Inc .
A Hershey-Ferrero takeover would have the goal of breaking up Cadbury, with Ferrero ending up with the gum and candy division, Il Sole said, citing unnamed sources.
The controlling Ferrero family would like the division alone since it has historically shown it has little interest in sharing management.
The family should meet advisers Mediobanca and Rothschild in coming days to discuss a possible deal, the newspaper said.
Italy's two biggest banks, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA and UniCredit SpA , could be among those interested in financing the deal.
However, Ferrero would like to take on little debt in a possible takeover, Il Sole 24 Ore said. Bank financing would pay for about half of Ferrero's bid.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by David Holmes)