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    FTC Okays Wrigley Purchase of Kraft's Candy

    Altoids, Life Savers brands included in deal.

    Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., the world's largest chewing-gum maker, won U.S. clearance to buy the Life Savers and Altoids candy brands from Kraft Foods Inc. for $1.48 billion, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

    Last week, the Federal Trade Commission closed the investigation it was conducting to determine whether the acquisition would hurt competition. The agency made the announcement in letters to the companies.

    Kraft, a unit of Altria Group Inc., is selling candy brands to focus on its most profitable businesses. Altria, the New York-based maker of Marlboro cigarettes through Philip Morris USA, may divide in two or three parts to boost share prices, CEO Louis Camilleri told investors last November.

    The acquisition is the biggest yet for Chicago-based Wrigley, which is expanding its product line beyond gum to compete with Hershey. As part of the transaction, Kraft, based in Northfield, Ill., is selling most of its confectionery business to Wrigley, including Sugus and Trolli fruit chews.

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