Ferrero sees high take-up of Thornton offer

Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire.

Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire.

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An offer by Nutella spread maker Ferrero to buy out investors in British chocolate retailer Thorntons has reached a take-up of nearly 75 per cent, the head of the Italian confectionery group was quoted as saying.

The offer, a rare deal by the family-owned group to expand in Europe’s biggest confectionery market, expires on July 16.

“Soon we’ll be able to delist (Thorntons) as announced,” CEO Giovanni Ferrero told la Repubblica in an interview published on Friday. “We’re very happy with the chances of expanding into the British market that the purchase of Thorntons grants us.”

The deal is the first since the death earlier this year of patriarch Michele Ferrero, who was Italy’s wealthiest man and largely shied away from acquisitions as he built up a business that also spans Kinder Surprise eggs and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Giovanni Ferrero confirmed the change in the company’s strategy.

“If we want to grow we can’t be happy with just keeping things as they are,” he said.

“In order to develop we need to grow in size, we must pursue alliances, mergers. We need to look for value... outside of Europe.”

However, the ties with Italy and Alba, the town in the north-western Piedmont region where Ferrero is headquartered, will remain “unchanged”, he said.

He confirmed there were no plans to list Ferrero on the stock market at present, though a listing may take place in the future as a consequence of a partnership with a large company.

“Perhaps then we could no longer afford the luxury of shunning the stock market. But at present it is not a realistic option,” he said.

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