Huhtamaki to sell Leaf candy

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HELSINKI--Huhtamaki Oyj, the Helsinki-based publicly-listed foods and packaging company, has agreed to sell its Leaf confectionery (candy) division to CSM, the Dutch food products and ingredients multinational. The agreement, valued at $446 million, covers all of Leaf's operations, excluding the company's Chinese chewing gum plant, which will be divested separately.

Operations included in the sale generate annual revenues of around $480 million. The transaction is expected to be completed over the next couple of months, pending statutory procedures and due diligence.

"[The company] has been evaluating Leaf's various strategic options since April 1998," says Huhtamaki's CEO Timo Peltola. "The full sale...as one entity emerged as a very attractive alternative at an early stage. As a buyer, CSM is already a major force in sugar confectionery in Northern Europe, and is an ideal new parent company for Leaf."

CSM posted net sales of $2.3 billion in 1998. The company's principal product areas include bakery ingredients, branded foods, sugared confectionery, refined sugar and lactic acid products. It employs some 7,500 people and has units in the Netherlands, the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Japan.

Huhtamaki's net sales amounted to $ 1.4 billion in 1998. Of this, the Leaf confectionery business contributed 42% in revenues. Leaf has manufacturing operations in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the U.K., Ireland, Italy and Poland, and has a joint-venture in India.

Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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