Wrigley to Buy Kraft’s Altoids, Life Savers

CHICAGO Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. will buy several candy brands from Kraft Foods in an all-cash deal for nearly $1.5 billion, according to the company.

The deal includes Altoids, Life Savers, Creme Savers, Trolli gummy candies, Sugus candies and other local and regional brands in the U.S., Europe, Indonesia and Thailand.

“There are only a handful of confectionery brands around the world that have the combination of heritage and vitality that can match up with Wrigley brands,” Bill Wrigley Jr., the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “Altoids and Life Savers are two such brands.”

Wrigley’s lead advertising agency is Omnicom Group’s BBDO in Chicago. Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett advertises Altoids, and Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding in New York handles Life Savers. A ruling on whether those assignments might change will not be made until after the deal closes, in mid-2005, according to a company representative.

Kraft spent more than $25 million on Life Savers advertising and more than $10 million for Altoids last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Kraft recently decided to sell most of its confection brands to concentrate on “center store” items, including Kraft cheese, Nabisco cookies and Maxwell House coffee. “By enabling us to better focus our resources, the sale should create value for Kraft, as well as our employees, customers and shareholders,” Roger Deromedi, Kraft CEO, said in a statement.

—Brandweek staff report