Italian confectionery business, Ferrero, is nearing in a $2.8-billion acquisition deal for the world’s largest food company’s, Nestle, U.S chocolate business, which includes brands such as Butterfinger, Nerds, Laffy Taffy, and Crunch chocolate bars, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The deal is expected to be completed as early as Sunday. Nestle’s business is experiencing a plunge in revenue and had generated sales of about 900 million francs, $915 million, in 2016.
“(Executive Chairman) Giovanni Ferrero is really committed to the deal, that’s why the group sweetened its offer to something in the area of $2.5 billion,” the source said.
The Italian chocolate maker, which has traditionally avoided acquisitions, is making an uncommon purchase to grow its portfolio beyond the Nutella hazelnut spread, Tic Tac candies, and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. However, for the Swiss company, this signals Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider’s first major divestment and initial step away from chocolate.
Nestle seeks to focus on categories like coffee and pet food as the food industry struggles with a decline in demand for sugary products. As it shifts towards healthier food, it is keeping its prepared-dishes, ice cream, and global confectionery businesses. Those product categories partook approximately 40 percent of total sales last year.
Last year, Ferrero bought Ferrara Candy, the Oakbrook Terrace-based maker of Brach’s, Trolli, and Lemonade candy.
The deal indicates that Ferrero is looking to widen its presence in the U.S market after purchasing Ferrara Candy in December, which increased its market share in that country to 4.8 percent.
Last month, the American chocolate manufacturer, Hershey Co. has agreed to pay $921 million for Amplify Snack Brands to move and grow into popcorn and potato chips. Hershey is said to be one of the potential bidders for Nestle’s business.
The deal would make Ferrero, which ranked third as largest candy sector in the world after doubling turnover to 10 billion euros in the past 10 years, the third-largest confectioner in the United States behind Mars and Hershey.
Over the years, the company relied on internal growth but started making purchases after Giovanni became Ferrero’s sole CEO in 2011 following the death of his brother.
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