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Cadbury to Demerge N. America Drinks in May

Cadbury Schweppes, the world's biggest confectioner, said the demerger of its North American soft drinks business is set for May 7, easing concerns over a possible delay and sending its shares higher.

The British maker of Dairy Milk chocolate and Trident gum said on Tuesday it expected both Cadbury and the demerged Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG) to have investment-grade capital structures as it signed definitive credit agreements for DPSG.

London-based Cadbury said it will bring forward the date of its annual general meeting to April 11 from a planned mid-May date to coincide with other meetings to approve the demerger, while it will also give a trading update on the same day.

After the demerger, the standalone confectionery group Cadbury will have net debt of around 1.65 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) and DPSG, which will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, will have net debt of around $3.8 billion, Cadbury said in a statement.

Cadbury shares gained 4 percent to close at 561 pence as the news settled investors' nerves that the credit crunch might jeopardise the beverage spin-off.

"The competition date should reassure investors that the demerger will proceed as Cadbury had planned in the second quarter of 2008," said one industry analyst.

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