Things just got a little sweeter at the Ferrero Group. The candy maker with its U.S. offices in Parsippany on Thursday said it acquired Wells Enterprises, its operations and its strong ice cream brands, which include Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon Classics, Bomb Pop and Halo Top.
The acquisition is part of Ferrero’s strategic growth ambitions for the ice cream category and Wells’ vision for accelerated growth.
The transaction, subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in early 2023. Terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.
Ferrero and Wells are both family companies with extensive confectionery and ice cream experience, quality products, proud heritage and a strong portfolio of well-loved brands.
Ferrero — which started in 1946 as a small pastry shop in Alba, Italy —has grown to become a global leader in sweet-packaged foods. Its brands include Nutella, Kinder, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher.
Wells has become the world’s largest family-owned and -managed ice cream company since it was founded in 1913 as a dairy delivery wagon business.
Wells Enterprises will remain a stand-alone business with its offices in Le Mars, Iowa, and production operations in Le Mars; Henderson, Nevada; and Dunkirk, New York. After the transaction closes, Mike Wells, member of the founding family and current CEO and chief engagement officer, will serve as an adviser to support the transition and maintain his active role in the Le Mars community. Current Wells President Liam Killeen will be named CEO, and the existing leadership team will remain in place.
“We are a 100-year-old company focused on adapting for the next 100 years,” Wells said. “Ferrero is a like-minded company with a commitment to providing high-quality, premium sweet-packaged food products that bring joy to consumers around the world. This acquisition puts the business in the best possible hands, and I look forward to supporting the entire Wells team and Ferrero with the transition.”
“I am delighted that Wells has agreed to join the Ferrero Group. This represents a win-win partnership, bringing together ice cream experts and confectionery champions. Together, we have the power of one and are well placed to grow and compete in the ice cream market,” Giovanni Ferrero, executive chairman of the Ferrero Group, said.
UBS Investment Bank acted as exclusive financial adviser and McDermott Will & Emery LLP served as legal counsel to Wells. Morgan Stanley & Co. International acted as exclusive financial adviser and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal counsel to Ferrero.