Ferrero agrees to pay $1.3B for Keebler, other Kellogg snack brands

Damon Riccio The Food Fella at age 19 dressed as a Keebler elf for a supermarket promotion. ­

The war for the elves is over, and Parsippany-based food giant Ferrero has won, reaching a $1.3 billion agreement to buy Keebler cookies and other snack brands from Kellogg Co., according to a Monday announcement.

Ferrero’s interest, reported in ROI-NJ’s “Food Fella” column in February, led to a cash deal that is expected to close by the end of July. Ferrero, known for its Nutella spread, would acquire select cookies, fruit and fruit-flavored snack brands, as well as pie crust and ice cream cone businesses.

In addition to Keebler (and its elf mascots), they include Mother’s, Famous Amos and cookies manufactured for the Girl Scouts. The deal also includes production facilities in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, and Washington.

“Kellogg Co.’s cookie, fruit snack, ice cream cone and pie crust businesses are an excellent strategic fit for Ferrero, as we continue to increase our overall footprint and product offerings in the North American market,” Giovanni Ferrero, executive chairman of the Ferrero Group, said in a prepared statement. “With this transaction, I look forward to bringing many iconic Kellogg brands into the Ferrero portfolio, to welcoming our new colleagues to the extended Ferrero community and to continuing Ferrero’s strong track record of growing brands, as we have through our successful acquisitions of Fannie May, Ferrara Candy Co. and the former Nestle U.S. confectionary business. We have great respect for Kellogg, its legacy and values, and are proud that Kellogg has chose Ferrero as a good home for these businesses.”

Parsippany’s B&G Foods was also interested in the brands, according to the “Food Fella.”

Kellogg’s will retain the remainder of its North American snacks business, including crackers, salty snacks and toaster pastries, among other products.

“This divestiture is yet another action we have taken to reshape and focus our portfolio, which will lead to reduced complexity, more targeted investment, and better growth,” Steve Cahillane, chairman and CEO of Michigan-based Kellogg’s, said in a statement. “Divesting these great brands wasn’t an easy decision, but we are pleased that they are transitioning to an outstanding company with a portfolio in which they will receive the focus and resources to grow.”

The deal is subject to customary approvals and conditions.

JPMorgan Securities PLC and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as advisers to Ferrero. Evercore was lead adviser to Kellogg, while Goldman Sachs served as co-adviser and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as legal counsel.

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