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Mars Buys Out Buffett For Full Control of Wrigley

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U.S. candy maker Mars Inc has revealed that it is buying out the stake of Warren Buffett in Wrigley in a move that would enable it take full control of a subsidiary it bought about eight years ago.

This announcement was made by Mars in a statement released on Thursday. The M&Ms and Snickers bar maker said it would buy the minority 20 percent stake in Wrigley belonging to the Buffett-owned company Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett had been a partner to Mars since its acquisition of Wrigley in 2008. Berkshire Hathaway contributed $2.1 billion to the $23 billion takeover deal for stake in the snack brand. The company got preference shares paying an annual dividend of five percent in the deal.

Mars was also lent $4.4 billion by Berkshire to bring the acquisition deal to reality. The amount borrowed has already been repaid three years ago.

The chocolate maker said in the statement that it would combine Wrigley with his operations to create Mars Wrigley Confectionery. The stake buyout will further strengthen the company’s foremost position in the global confectionery market, which is valued at around $177 billion.

Mars is considered one of the most tightly-held private companies in the world. It is known to avoid partnerships with external investors, which might mean the one with Buffet was very necessary, especially considering the high cost of the financing. This explains why the company is moving fast to secure full control over an acquisition that ranks among the biggest in its 126-year history.

“We are grateful for the strong and productive partnership we have with Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. It is a great relationship that has yielded value on both sides,” CEO Grant F. Reid said. “We’re equally pleased that sole ownership of Wrigley provides us with an opportunity to rethink how we simplify our chocolate and Wrigley businesses so that we can bring a more holistic approach to the vibrant category.”

Berkshire expects the preferred shares to be cashed out as early as this year. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company received at least $680 when its bonds were paid off by Mars in 2013. Those bonds earned Buffett a handsome 11.45 percent in interest, according to the New York Times. He has earned around $840 million in dividends on the preferred shares received as part of the Wrigley acquisition deal.

The original agreement gave Mars the right to purchase half of the stake held by Buffett this year. The rest can be bought by 2021. But the confectioner decided to accelerate the full takeover, although the financial terms of the deal were not been revealed.

Mars and its subsidiary already held the leading position in the global confectionery market. They combine for 13.5 percent share, with fellow American company Mondelez trailing. Euromonitor estimates that Mars and Wrigley control a quarter of the U.S. market.

Martin Radvan, Wrigley global president, will be the head of the new Mars Wrigley Confectionery, whose headquarters will be in Chicago. He has reportedly been with the leading confectioner for 30 years.

Mars expects to complete full integration of the two businesses in 2017.

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