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Lindt presents a chocolate with chilli flavour in this file photo. (ALBERT GEA/REUTERS)
Lindt presents a chocolate with chilli flavour in this file photo. (ALBERT GEA/REUTERS)

Swiss chocolate maker Lindt agrees to buy Russell Stover Add to ...

Swiss chocolate maker Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Spruengli said it had agreed to acquire family-owned U.S. candy business Russell Stover, making it the no.3 chocolate manufacturer in North America.

The Swiss company did not disclose the price of the transaction, which is expected to help the group exceed sales of $1.5-billion (876 million pounds) in North America in 2015.

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“This biggest and most important strategic acquisition to date in Lindt & Spruengli’s history is a unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business,” Lindt Chairman and Chief Executive Ernst Tanner said in a statement.

Russell Stover, known for its boxed chocolates, is the third-largest U.S. candy company by sales, with annual revenues of around $500-million.

Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Russell Stover also produces Whitman’s brand chocolates. Its products are sold in more than 70,000 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 Swiss maker of Lindor chocolate balls and gold foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies said the deal would be financed through cash and bank loans and is expected to make a strong contribution to earnings per share from 2015.

In a separate statement, Lindt said sales grew 6 per cent in the first half to 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.34-billion), in line with the average forecast in a Reuters poll for 1.195 billion.

The company confirmed its outlook for sales to grow 6-8 per cent this year and for an increase in its earnings before interest tax (EBIT) margin by 20 to 40 basis points.

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