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Wrigley plans meeting to talk about sale to Mars

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., maker of Eclipse, Orbit and Altoids gum and breathmints, yesterday announced the date for a shareholder meeting to reach an approval for its sale to Mars Inc. Wrigley’s shareholders will meet Sept. 25, hometown of Chicago, the company stated in filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Approval must be reached by at least two-thirds of those owning stock.

Wrigley has agreed to sell its business to Mars for $23 billion, or $80 per share. In addition, Wrigley must agree to pay Mars a one-time break-up fee of $621 million to $690 million if the deal fails to pass, according to the language in the SEC filing. Mars will have to pay Wrigley $1 billion if anything happens on Mars’ side to cause the deal to fail.

Mars will then absorb Wrigley’s brands to form the largest confection company in the world, bumping Britain’s Cadbury PLC to second place. The Mars/Wrigley deal is being financed in part by billionaire Warren Buffett.

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Sara Lee launches line of sandwich dressings

BY Jenna Duncan

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. Sara Lee has announced the launch of several new sandwich condiments.

The company said its Fresh Ideas Sandwich Dressings were designed to add gourmet flavor to sandwiches, whether at home, at work or at events such as picnics and barbecues. The dressings are available in five flavors: ranch, bacon, mustard with sub sandwich oil, horseradish with garlic and honey mustard with pepper.

The company said it created the line after results from a consumer study indicated that people were interested in trying new sandwich dressing flavors, but were hesitant to try them at home.

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Miller withdraws test marketing of craft beers

BY Jenna Duncan

MILWAUKEE After a month of less-than positive responses to its Miller Lite Brewing Collection craft beer variations in several Midwestern markets, newly-formed MillerCoors has ended testing in order to “rethink the brand,” the company has said. The recent test run began in April and was slated to last through September, but since has been halted.

Craft beer variations of Miller Lite, which blend the original with various styles such as amber, blonde and wheat ales, did not fare as well as expected among taste-testers in cities like Baltimore, Charlotte, N.C. and Minneapolis, a MillerCoors spokesman has said.

MillerCoors said that the idea behind the Miller Lite Brewing Collection was to market a low-calorie Miller Lite to craft drinkers and attract new beer drinkers, as well. But the company met some hang-ups spreading the message, as well as separately identifying classic Miller v from the craft collection.

Thursday, Miller’s parent company, SABMiller, reported that for the previous quarter 2008 major beer brand sales have fallen by 2 percent in North America, and lager consumption was down 1.6 percent around the globe. Additionally, North American retailer purchases of Miller Lite were down by 1.6 percent. Miller High Life sales were up less than 1 percent.

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