Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli has struck a deal to buy US candy firm Russell Stover, turning Lindt (which already owns Ghirardelli) into the third-largest chocolate maker in the US behind Hershey and Mars.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Lindt CEO Ernst Tanner told Reuters that, "It is a billion [dollar?] deal. How much more than one billion I cannot say."
The deal would give Lindt more clout in negotiations with retailers, he added:"We'll likely be 'category captain' for premium chocolate, meaning we'll be able to advise our partners on their product selection and sales activities."
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Russell Stover generates annual revenues of around $500m from sales in drug stores, card and gift shops, grocery stores, department stores and retail stores throughout the United States and in more than 20 countries worldwide.
The privately owned firm, which also produces chocolate under the Whitman's brand, has four manufacturing facilities in Kansas, Texas and Colorado, and employs 2,700 people. It also runs a chain of 35 retail outlets, mostly in the central US States.