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Lindt & Sprüngli paid $1.6 billion for Russell Stover

A sweet deal priced the September sale of Russell Stover at $1.6 billion, according to the annual report of the Swiss buyer.
A sweet deal priced the September sale of Russell Stover at $1.6 billion, according to the annual report of the Swiss buyer. The Kansas City Star

Kansas City-based Russell Stover Inc. fetched a sweet price — about $1.6 billion — when the company’s sale to a Swiss buyer closed last September.

Lindt & Sprüngli AG, the Switzerland-based maker of Lindt and Ghirardelli chocolates, reported the details in its annual report released Tuesday. It paid 1.4996 billion Swiss francs in “cash settled consideration” on the Sept. 8, 2014, sale date.

A Swiss franc was worth $1.069 in currency exchange markets that day, pushing the dollar value of the deal to $1.6 billion. The companies had not reported the value of the deal when it was announced in July 2014.

Reports at the time placed the upper range of Russell Stover’s price around $1.5 billion. It’s worth it, analysts said, provided Lindt will be able to boost sales of Russell Stover and Whitman’s chocolates.

One way to do that would be to use Russell Stover’s network of retail outlets and distribution relationships to boost sales of Lindt and Ghirardelli chocolates. Russell Stover brands are sold through 70,000 outlets, including groceries and drugstores.

Ernst Tanner, Lindt chairman and chief executive officer, declared 2014 a successful year, with particular emphasis on the acquisition.

“The salient event, which will permanently underlay our future corporate success, was by far the takeover of the traditional American chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover announced in mid-July 2014, the largest strategic acquisition in the company’s history,” Tanner wrote in a letter to Lindt shareholders.

Buying Russell Stover and gaining its roughly $500 million in annual sales lifted Lindt to being the third largest chocolate maker in the U.S., surpassing Nestle but still trailing Hershey and Mars.

Tanner set integrating the Russell Stover businesses into Lindt as “the utmost priority” for this year.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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