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MILWAUKEE -- In a move that ends more than a century of family control, shareholders of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. approved the company’s $23 billion sale to Mars Inc., which now becomes the world’s largest candy maker.
The deal, which bumps Britain’s Cadbury PLC from the top candy-making slot, will offer gums such as Juicy Fruit and Big Red, M&Ms, Snickers and Skittles under the same corporate banner.
The agreement, which was first announced in April, includes financing from famed investor Warren Buffett, whose company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will also invest at least $5 billion in Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a survivor of the credit crisis currently rocking Wall Street, according to an Associated Press report.
Bill Wrigley Jr., the company’s executive chairman, said Buffett’s investment in Goldman Sachs would not impact financing for the Mars deal. Wrigley called the announcement "momentous" adding the gum maker respected its history, which dates back to 1891.
"We must respect the past, but at all times do what's right for the future," he told the AP, adding the company will continue a strong presence in Chicago.
Wrigley said the company wanted to offer value to shareholders with the deal, which translates to $80 a share, slightly above the stock’s closing price Thursday of $79.58, a nickel gain.
Under Mars’ ownership, the firm will be able to grow in new directions, he said. Wrigley’s is slated to take over control of Mars’ non-chocolate candy, such as Starburst and Skittles.
"We’ll have great new brands in our portfolio and we’ll have the resources and critical mass to explore new brands and categories in places that may have been beyond our reach," Wrigley told the AP.