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Monday, July 28, 2008
Monday July 28 2008
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BRUSSELS, July 28 (Reuters) - M&M's candy maker Mars Inc of the United States won unconditional permission from the European Commission on Monday to purchase the U.S. No. 1 chewing gum manufacturer Wm Wrigley Jr Co for $23 billion.
"There is no overlap in the parties' core confectionery activities (chocolate and gum)," the Commission said in a statement.
"Although both parties are active in sugar confectionery, the limited market shares do not give rise to competition concerns," the European Union executive added.
The deal, which billionaire Warren Buffett helped to finance, would create the world's largest confectionery company. Mars is privately held.
"The Commission also concluded that there is no risk that the joint entity could use the strong market position Wrigley currently enjoys on the gum markets to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors through foreclosure of chocolate markets," the executive said.
The deal will give Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc a stake of more than 10 percent in Wrigley, which will become a separate Mars subsidiary.
Buffett's other food holdings include a stake in Kraft Foods Inc.
Aside from Berkshire, financing for the Wrigley deal is being provided by Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co, Mars said in a statement when the deal was announced.
The combined companies would have a major presence in the global chocolate, gum and candy businesses.
Wrigley has brands such as Extra and Eclipse, while privately held Mars is known for its M&M's, Snickers, Starburst and Twix. (Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Paul Bolding)

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