Mars Buying Buffet’s Complete Wrigley Stake
On Thursday, Mars Inc the candy maker announced it would take 100% control of its chewing gum company Wrigley, through acquiring a minority stake that Berkshire Hathaway Inc the company operated by Warren Buffett.
Mars is planning to combine the Wrigley business with its chocolate business that will put Snickers, M&Ms, Starburst, Extra and Doublemint gum as well as Altoids under the same roof.
Berkshire invested in 2008 in Wrigley when it took a stock of $2.1 billion in preferred stock and another $4.4 billion in bonds in the $23 billion acquisition by Mars of the maker of chewing gum.
In 2013, Mars repurchased the bonds, and Berkshire was expecting Mars to redeem half the preferred stock that carries a dividend of 5%, by January. Instead, Mars will redeem it all.
Buffett through a prepared statement said he had enjoyed the experiences Berkshire had with the Mars management and family and wished them all the best.
The worldwide confectionery business was worth over $183 billion in 2015, according to a European monitoring company.
However, it has struggled of late as more consumers shift toward foods that are healthier, prompting a number of retailers to shrink shelf space for sugary and processed snacks.
Mars CEO Grant Reid said the company was grateful for the productive and strong partnership it had with Buffett and Berkshire. The sole ownership by Mars of Wrigley will provide the company with opportunities to rethink ways to simplify the Wrigley and chocolate businesses.
Mars, the largest maker of candy in the world ahead of its biggest rivals Hershey and Mondelez International, expects to combine its Wrigley and chocolate businesses in 2017 into one called Mars Wrigley Confectionery that will have over 30,000 employees.
This combined entity would have its headquarters in Chicago, the longtime home of Wrigley’s and Martin Radvan would be its head, who is a veteran of 30 years with Mars and the president of Wrigley’s.
Mars has its headquarters in McLean, Virginia. It is known for its foods that are less than healthy.
Through liquidating its stake in Mars, Berkshire will lose $105 million in income stream annually from its preferred stock.
That investment was one of a number that the conglomerate owned by Buffett made during as well as soon after the 2008 financial crisis in brand name businesses looking to shore up their finances.