American-based candy company Russell Stover is joining forces with Swiss chocolatier Lindt. The confectionery Lindt & Sprüngli announced today their biggest acquisition ever, though the financial details were not revealed. A source familiar with the acquisition told The Wall Street Journal that the purchase price was close to $1.5 billion.
"This biggest and most important strategic acquisition to date in Lindt & Sprüngli's history is a unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business and will greatly enhance the group's status in the world's biggest overall chocolate marketplace," said Ernst Tanner, CEO of Lindt & Sprüngli, in a statement.
Russell Stover is a very old, established company, however, analysts define them as a "non-premium" brand. Retired Lindt Master Chocolatier Hans Mazenauer told ABC News, "Lindt chocolate is the best chocolate, in my opinion, you can buy. Lindt has quality control and process that is the best there is."
He noted the effect Lindt had on Ghiradelli, a chocolate company they acquired in 1998. "They are doing very, very well. You find Ghiradelli all over." Mazenauer believes Lindt will have a similarly positive influence on Russell Stover chocolate. "It might make a big difference. I think Russell Stover will profit with this takeover from Lindt’s expertise in chocolate. It’s just the best you can get. I’m sure the quality will improve and they will profit by having such good people join them."
As for Russell Stover's influence on Lindt, it could be a matter of distribution and quantity. Russell Stover is currently found across 70,000 drug stores in the U.S. and Canada. It is also is the third-largest American chocolate manufacturer, right behind Hershey and Mars.