Sweet Deal: Mars to Buy Wrigley
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Mars, that's the candy bar company, wants to get into the chewing gum business. It's offering a rich premium to buy the Wrigley Company, the Chicago based firm that makes Juicy Fruit and Doublemint gum. Wrigley officials announced the deal today saying it could spur other companies in the candy business to think about mergers of their own.
NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
CHERYL CORLEY: family-owned Mars is the world's largest chocolate seller and Wrigley is the number one manufacturer of chewing gum. Under the plan announced today, Mars will purchase Wrigley for $80 a share in a transaction valued at about $23 billion.
Bill Wrigley, the company's chairman says it's an unbeatable combination that will put brands like Snickers, M & M's, Orbit, and Skittles all under one umbrella.
Mr. BILL WRIGLEY (Executive Chairman, Wrigley Company): Together we'll be more than a $27 billion company. And the combined entity will be, among other things, the world's leading confectionary company with the resources and critical mass to explore new geographies and categories that might have been beyond our reach in the past.
CORLEY: Billionaire Warren Buffet will also have a minority stake in Wrigley, but the firm will continue to operate independently as a Mars subsidiary. In a company statement, Mars President Paul Michaels says, both firms have a strong cultural heritage and similar values. Both company's have been around for more than a century and Wrigley's President, Bill Perez, says the merger is a good fit.
Mr. WILLIAM PEREZ (President and CEO, William Wrigley Junior Company): Consider the following - family led culture and strong values; combined, about 200 years of consumer goods experience; long-term focus; a commitment to investing in brands; global expertise and a belief in empowering and developing people.
CORLEY: The Wrigley name has long been a part of Chicago history. The gum maker has a towering ornate headquarters along Chicago's Michigan Avenue and the Chicago Cubs historic ballpark, Wrigley Field was named after its former owners. Bill Wrigley says, while the name of the ballpark may change, the company that makes Lifesavers, Altoids, and Doublemint will continue to be called Wrigley. So, his focus now is on the merger. He says it's likely to make other companies in the confectionary industry re-think their options.
Mr. WRIGLEY: The folks at Hershey's, the folks at Cadbury, and folks maybe at Nestle have to think about what they want to do in this phase and will evaluate their opportunities.
CORLEY: The opportunities the merger will bring for Wrigley he says will include growth, and innovation, and new products - maybe something like chocolate chewing gum.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. WRIGLEY: Who knows?
Mr. PEREZ: You'll never know.
CORLEY: The Mars acquisition of Wrigley goes to the company's shareholders and if approved, is expected to take six months to a year to complete.
Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.
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