Ferrero, the Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products, is close to signing a $2.8-billion deal to acquire Nestlé's U.S. candy business, according to several media outlets.
It was first reported late last summer that the Nutella maker was interested in purchasing Nestlé's U.S. confections portfolio, which includes Butterfinger, Crunch, BabyRuth and Nerds.
Ferrero is looking to boost its presence in the U.S. and expand beyond its beloved hazelnut spread, Tic Tac mints and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, according to a source close to the deal. Nestlé, meanwhile, is looking to free up resources in order to shift its focus to higher growth areas such as pet food, coffee and meal delivery.
Though Ferrero is often quiet on the acquisition front, the company purchased Ferrara Candy Co., the maker of Lemonheads and RedHots last fall, and was said to have raised its offer for Nestlé’s business last week in an attempt to outbid rival Hershey.
Nestlé, Ferrero and Hershey have declined to comment on the deal.