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Buffet, Mars bid for gum company


April 28, 2008
By The Associated Press

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Apr. 28, 2008, Mars Inc. and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., were close to a deal to acquire the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company for more than US$22 billion, a deal that could transform the confectionery industry, people familiar with the agreement said Monday.

Apr. 28, 2008, Mars Inc. and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., were close to a deal to acquire the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company for more than US$22 billion, a deal that could transform the confectionery industry, people familiar with the agreement told newspapers.

The deal could be announced as early as Monday, these people told The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Wrigley shares soared 21 per cent, or $13.55, to $76 in pre-market trading.

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The Times' sources cautioned that the deal could still fall apart. Neither newspaper identified the people providing the information.

Mars had no immediate comment. Calls to Wrigley and Berkshire Hathaway were not immediately returned.

The merger of Mars, maker of M&Ms, Snickers bars and other candy, and Wrigley, which produces such gums as Extra, Eclipse, and Orbit, could force other snack companies to merge to compete with the new confectionery giant.

Buffett, already a candy owner in Sees Candies, is helping finance the transaction for Mars, the newspapers said.

Representatives of the companies and Berkshire Hathaway declined to comment.

The sale price would represent a sizable premium above Wrigley's stock market value, which was about $17.3 billion Friday.

Wrigley, based in Chicago, sells candy in nearly 200 countries. Founded in 1891, the company has been led by four generations of the Wrigley family.

The company is scheduled to release first-quarter earnings results Monday.

Mars is a family owned company based in McLean, Va., and has global sales of about $22 billion each year. It was founded in 1911.

The Associated Press 2008