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Sweet deal: Nestle sells US candy to Ferrero for $2.9 bn

© AFP/File | Italy's Ferrero is picking up the US candy business of Nestle to become the third largest confectionary maker in the United States.

GENEVA (AFP) - 

Nestle said Tuesday it has agreed to sell its US candy business to Italy's Ferrero for CHF 2.8 billion ($2.9 billion, 2.4 billion euros) in cash as the Swiss food giant shakes up its product portfolio.

Ferrero, known for its Tic Tac, Nutella and Ferrero Rocher brands but which has traditionally preferred organic growth to acquisitions, will now be picking up Crunch, Butterfinger and Baby Ruth from Nestle.

The sale will make Ferrero the third-largest confectionary company in the US market

Executive chairman Giovanni Ferrero said that after the acquisition the Ferrero Group "will have substantially greater scale, a broader offering of high-quality products to customers..." in the United States, the world?s largest confectionary market.

Nestle's chief executive Mark Schneider said the deal "allows Nestle to invest and innovate across a range of categories where we see strong future growth and hold leadership positions, such as pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition."

Nestle has begun to reposition itself since Schneider, who previously headed up German healthcare group Fresenius, took over the reins of the Swiss firm at the start of last year.

Nestle has snapped up companies that make vegetarian meals, vitamins and luxury coffee.

Nestle US candy business registered sales of some 900 million Swiss francs in 2016, in a market worth an overall $8 billion, according to Ibis World.

Nestle said it only represented around three percent of its overall US sales.

Nestle said it remains fully committed to growing its leading international confectionery activities around the world, particularly its global brand KitKat.

Nestle added it expects the deal to close by the end of March.

© 2018 AFP