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Ferrero Group, the confections giant best known for Nutella and Tic Tac, will acquire a number of iconic American brands from Kellogg for $1.3 billion, the company announced on Monday. It marks the Luxembourg-based firm’s latest foray into the U.S. market.
The deal encompasses Kellogg’s cookie, fruit and fruit-flavored snack, ice cream cone and pie crust businesses, which generated a combined $900 million in 2018 revenue. That includes Keebler pie crust, Famous Amos cookies and Little Brownie Bakers, one of two suppliers of Girl Scout cookies.
Ferrero is chaired by Giovanni Ferrero, the 54-year-old heir to the family fortune. An Italian citizen, he lives in Belgium, a short drive from Ferrero’s Luxembourg headquarters. He was the 39th richest person in the world on Forbes’ 2019 World’s Billionaires list, with a net worth of $22.4 billion.
Giovanni Ferrero has been on a buying spree in recent years. In 2015 he made Ferrero Group’s first branded acquisition, a $170 million deal for the British chocolatier Thorntons. Then he paid $115 million for U.S. candy maker Fannie May in May 2017, followed by the purchase of Ferrara, the maker of Red Hots and Trolli gummies, for about $1.3 billion. His biggest deal came in March 2018, when he scooped up Nestle’s American candy business for $2.8 billion.
“I feel like we are duty-bound to grow," Giovanni told Forbes in a 2018 profile. His aim is to double corporate revenue every ten years. As such, consumers can expect more acquisitions down the road.
Ferrero Group began as a pastry shop opened in 1923 by Giovanni’s grandfather Pietro, in Dogliani, northwestern Italy. Pietro’s son, Michele, took over in 1957 and fueled the company’s international expansion. By 1997, the firm had roughly $4.8 billion in annual sales.
Giovanni and his brother, also named Pietro, took over as CEO that same year. But Pietro suffered a fatal heart attack while biking in South Africa in 2011, leaving Giovanni alone in command.
Since then, Giovanni has focused on expanding Ferrero’s native products, including Ferrero Rocher pralines, Nutella and Kinder Joy eggs, while also growing revenue through acquisitions. The company now generates over $12 billion in annual sales across more than 170 countries.
As Giovanni told Forbes last year: “Well, it’s a promising start.”