Martina Lopez has sent me an e-mail. She suggests that every week, I should tell you about a phrasal verb. Good idea, Martina. There are hundreds of phrasal verbs in English, and there is, I am afraid, no easy way to learn them. You just have to remember what they mean! So, in every podcast, I will try to introduce a new phrasal verb. Today’s phrasal verb is “to take over”.
Kevin has just changed jobs in his company. His job title used to be “Sales Analyst”. Now he is “Assistant Sales Manager – South East England”. Wow, it sounds exciting, doesn’t it! The man who used to be the “Assistant Sales Manager – South East England” is called Jimmy. He has resigned from the company. He has decided to open a bar on an island in Greece. It will be called “Jimmy’s Bar”, and it will sell English beer to English tourists. So Kevin has taken over the job of Assistant Sales Manager. That means – Jimmy used to be Assistant Sales Manager, but now Kevin has the job.
“Take over” has another, related meaning. If a company buys another company, we can say that it has taken over the other company. It has made a takeover offer, or a takeover bid; that is, it has said that it is willing to buy all the shares. So, the company where Joanne works, Global News, has recently taken over another company called Media Design. It now owns Media Design.
In Birmingham, where I live, people have been very worried in the past few weeks about a takeover bid for the Cadbury chocolate company. George Cadbury founded the Cadbury company in the 19th century. His father was a tea and coffee merchant in Birmingham, and when he was only 22 years old, George and his brother Richard took over the running of the tea and coffee business. George expanded the business into chocolate. This was a very natural thing to do, as in the 19th century chocolate was something to drink – like tea or coffee – and not something to eat, like we eat a chocolate bar today.
The chocolate business was very successful, and it became too big for the factory in the centre of Birmingham. George bought land in the countryside south of Birmingham, in a place which today is called Bournville, and built a new chocolate factory there. He thought that it was important that his workers should have good housing, so he built houses for them, close to the factory. They were much better than most working-class houses at the time, and had big gardens where the children could play and where the family could grow flowers and vegetables. He built a school, and a training college, and a swimming pool and sports facilities for his workers. The Bournville village which George Cadbury built still exists today, and is a very pleasant part of the city.
In the 20th century, Cadbury became the biggest chocolate company in Britain, and expanded into many other countries. The company is no longer owned by the Cadbury family. It has shares, which people can buy and sell on the Stock Exchange, just like most other big companies.
However, now an American company called Kraft wants to buy Cadbury. Kraft are famous for making a processed cheese that looks and tastes like plastic and may even be made of plastic. Kraft have made a takeover bid for Cadbury, and it seems likely that the people who own shares in Cadbury will agree to sell them to Kraft. So Cadbury will no longer be a independent company, but a subsidiary of a big American corporation. People in Birmingham are very worried that in a few years, Kraft will close the famous chocolate factory in Bournville, and move chocolate production to another country. People are angry, too, that investment bankers have made large profits from the takeover, at a time when many people have no jobs.
But lets end with something a bit more cheerful about takeovers. One day, perhaps, someone may want to take over these podcasts. Perhaps Google would be interested, or Apple, or Microsoft. But they will need deep pockets. Unless their takeover offer is at least $100 million, I will not even return their telephone calls.