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July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Lindt & Spruengli AG, the world’s largest producer of premium chocolate, agreed to acquire Russell Stover Candies Inc., giving the Swiss company control of the biggest U.S. maker of boxed chocolate.
The purchase will make Lindt the third-largest chocolate producer in North America, Kilchberg, Switzerland-based Lindt said in a statement today. The price was undisclosed.
The acquisition is the biggest in the company’s history, as the maker of Lindor chocolate balls seeks to step up the pace of expansion in North America. Last year, the continent accounted for 30 percent of its $3.1 billion revenue, up from 17 percent in 2007. Russell Stover will add annual sales of about $500 million, Lindt said.
The purchase “is a unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business and will greatly enhance the group’s status in the world’s biggest overall chocolate marketplace,” Chief Executive Officer Ernst Tanner said in the statement.
Russell Stover was founded by Clara and Russell Stover from their Denver bungalow in 1923 and was acquired by Lou Ward, a box maker who had been supplying packaging to the Stovers, in 1960.
Russell Stover chocolates are a regular feature of candy stores across the U.S. In addition to its eponymous brand, the company makes Whitman’s and Pangburn’s candies. Its products are sold in almost 40 company-owned shops throughout the U.S. and at more than 70,000 drugstores, card and gift shops, grocery outlets and department stores.
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