Italy's Ferrero family is united in its decision to look at options for British confectioner Cadbury, a source close to the family told Reuters, after newspapers reported a potentially deal-breaking division.

It is absolutely united in this preliminary phase ... there is absolutely no division in the family, the source said on Monday, on condition of anonymity. Italian newspapers have said Michele Ferrero was reluctant to consider a bid while his chief executive sons Pietro and Giovanni were more interested in such a move.

Ferrero and U.S.-based Hershey Co said last week in separate statements they were reviewing a possible offer for Cadbury, the target of a hostile 9.9 billion pound ($16.4 billion) bid by U.S. food group Kraft Foods Inc.

The Ferrero family has made no further comment.

Michele Ferrero is Italy's richest man and the company's Rocher chocolates are known worldwide. However, the family has shunned publicity and not made a single acquisition in its 60-year history.

Speculation about a bid battle for Cadbury lifted shares in the company to a new high on Monday but analysts doubted whether a competing bid will emerge.

Ferrero would only consider a friendly bid, a source close to the matter told Reuters last week.

The Italian company and Hershey have also weighed breaking Cadbury up into separate businesses, a source familiar with the situation said last week.

 (Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.6020 pound)