Akeel Sachak, global head of the consumer team at Rothschild, may get a seat at the table for this year's sweetest deal after all.
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS secured the coveted roles defending Cadbury against Kraft's $16.7 billion hostile offer, but the Rothschild rainmaker is now advising Italy's Ferrero as it looks at the British chocolatier and could spark a bidding war.
He'll be in good company if U.S. chocolate maker Hershey Co, which is also considering a bid for Cadbury and has held talks with Ferrero about a joint offer, steps into the frame.
Hershey's advisers include Warren Buffett's chosen banker Byron Trott and, for some proxy celebrity pizzazz, Jamie Grant, the older brother of actor Hugh Grant.
This is the situation everyone wants to be involved in. It is the biggest bid in London and the consumer sector. It is what everyone is talking about, said a head of UK investment banking at a top London firm.
Sachak, who joined Rothschild after leaving Oxford University, brings insight to his appointment for the secretive, family-owned Ferrero, the maker of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Nutella chocolate spread. Ferrero has yet to make an acquisition in its 60-year history.
Sachak has worked for Cadbury on a number of acquisitions and has advised other companies that have bought some of the confectioner's assets.
He helped Cadbury cement its position as one of the leading players in the high margin global gum business, when it gobbled up Turkey's Intergum for $450 million in 2007.
That experience could be vital if Ferrero plans to take Cadbury's gum and candy division, a unit worth around $7.4 billion, according to media reports.
He was also an architect of Cadbury's purchase of Orangina for 700 million euros in 2001, which helped scale up the company's French and German soft drinks business after Coca-Cola Co was blocked from buying the assets on competition grounds a year earlier.
Sachak flipped sides five years later, advising private equity firms Blackstone Group and Lion Capital on the acquisition of Orangina for around $2.6 billion.
The pair sold the business a few months ago for $3.85 billion, again under advice from Sachak and his team.
As Hershey contemplates the most transformative move in its 100-year history, it has assembled an elite group of bankers to provide advice.
Hershey, which tried and failed to combine with Cadbury in 2007, has held very preliminary talks with Ferrero about a possible joint bid, a person familiar with the matter previously told Reuters.
In addition to Grant and Trott, its advisers include BDT Capital Partners and Watch Hill Partners.
A native of Union, Missouri, Trott is best known for his high-profile banking relationship with Buffett, whose Berskhire Hathaway also happens to be the largest shareholder in Kraft.
He has helped the Sage of Omaha on deals ranging from the $4.5 billion acquisition of a majority stake of Marmon Holdings from Chicago's Pritzker family, to a crucial $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs to an investment alongside Mars in the acquisition of Wm Wrigley jr Co last year.
Trott worked at Goldman for 27 years before starting his own firm last year, BDT Capital Partners. He was backed by Buffett, who called him the rare investment banker who puts himself in his client's shoes in his 2008 letter to Berkshire Hathaway investors.
JP Morgan veteran Grant has defended Heinz in its battles against activist investor Nelson Peltz and worked with food services giant Aramark twice, first taking them public in 2001 and then taking them private again five years later.
Grant worked with Wendy's in its sale to Arby's owner Triarc in 2008.
A graduate of Oxford University, Grant decorated his office in the late 1980s with a black tombstone that read: Sometimes the best advice is not to do the deal.
(Editing by Michele Gershberg)