Cadbury Schweppes’s reorganisation and job cuts - which are announced today - show the all-pervading influence of private equity.
Because the sweets and beverage business is doing to itself what a private equity owner would do.
It is making itself more efficient through a 15 per cent reduction in headcount and a similar reduction in the number of places it makes confectionery.
That means around 7,500 jobs will go around the world over four years and ten confectionery sites will close – though Bourneville, as the company’s home-sweet-home, is likely to be largely unaffected.
The reorganisation will cost it around £450m in a one-off charge.
But Cadbury is hoping to reap a very substantial increase in its profit margins, perhaps as much as 40 per cent or 50 per cent.
However Cadbury's story is about more than cost cutting.
It is already the world's biggest confectionery company - and it believes it can become a lot bigger, by investing in developing markets and by manufacturing healthier and ritzier products for richer consumers.
Cadbury, which is dropping the “Schweppes” from its moniker, has also confirmed that a sale of its huge US drinks business - which makes Dr Pepper and Seven Up - is more likely than a stock market listing.
That could raise more than £7bn. And the bidders for the drinks operation are - of course - private equity funds.
So what's the overall message from Cadbury today? It's "do unto thyself before private equity does it to you."
And here's what should cheer up Cadbury's shareholders and the millions of people who have a stake in it through their pension funds: the profits from this sweeping reorganisation should accrue to them, rather going to the partners in private equity firms and the investors in their funds.
UPDATE 1600: In response to those who say that the same pension funds invest in FTSE 100 companies and in private equity, actually that’s not quite right. The vast bulk of cash going into the largest UK-based private equity funds comes from giant overseas pension funds, especially US ones, such as Calpers.
All the statistics show that UK pension funds remain under-invested in private equity – although they are putting more money into these and other alternative assets. So when private equity buys British businesses, that represents a distribution of assets and potential returns away from British pensioners to overseas pensioners.
By the way, if you click here, you can watch an interview I did this morning with Todd Stitzer, the chief executive of Cadbury.