SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Mars Inc. and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. are close to a deal to buy Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. for more than $22 billion, according to a media report Sunday.
Such a deal would unite two icons of the U.S. candy business with global reach: Wrigley(WWY) the chewing-gum maker, and Mars, the closely held company behind Snickers chocolate bars and M&M's, The Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. See Wall Street Journal story (WWY)
The transaction was expected to be announced as early as Monday, the Journal said, adding that representatives of the companies declined to comment.
Mars is the world's largest maker of chocolate by sales, with a market share of 15%, according to the report.
Terms of the deal weren't immediately clear, but Wrigley has a stock market value of about $17.3 billion and it appeared that the buyers were prepared to offer a rich premium, the Journal said.
Under one scenario under discussion, Berkshire (BRKA)
Last:(BRKB) would likely provide financing to Mars for the deal and become a stakeholder in Wrigley, the Journal said.
Delayed quote data
Delayed quote data
A deal would expand Mars's already considerable global reach, and Wrigley generates the majority of its sales outside of the U.S., according to the report.
In recent years, Wrigley has expanded its offerings beyond chewing gum, according to the report In 2005, Wrigley bought Kraft Foods Inc.'s (KFT) candy assets, including Altoids and LifeSavers, for about $1.5 billion. Wrigley also recently purchased a Russian chocolate company. The family-controlled company was close to a deal to acquire Hershey Co. in 2002 for about $12.5 billion, but talks fell apart at the last moment, the Journal said.
Wrigley's products include Extra, Eclipse and Orbit gums.
If successful, a deal for Wrigley would bring together two companies controlled by intensely private dynasties: the Mars of northern Virginia and Wrigleys of Chicago, the Journal said.The Wrigley family helped build Chicago and remains one of its best-known dynasties. Wrigley's Michigan Avenue headquarters is one of the city's landmark buildings. The family's name is on everything from the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium to the Wrigleyville neighborhood to part of the new Millennium Park, according to the report.
Companies in this story
|Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (WWY)|
|Berkshire Hathaway Inc Del (BRKA)|
|Berkshire Hathaway Inc Del (BRKB)|
|Kraft Foods Inc (KFT)|