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 / Updated  / Source: Reuters

Russell Stover, an American chocolate tradition, is getting a European makover. Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli has agreed to acquire the family-owned candy maker, giving it a bigger presence in the world's largest chocolate market. Lindt did not disclose the price of the deal that makes it the No.3 chocolate producer in the United States behind Hershey and Mars. But the maker of Lindor chocolate balls said its North American sales next year should increase from $1 billion to $1.5 billion with the addition of Russell Stover's traditional gold box chocolates and Valentine's candies. Lindt bought another American chocolatier, Ghirardelli, in 1998. The Ward family put privately-held Russell Stover, which also produces Whitman's brand chocolates, up for sale earlier this year and has been working with Goldman Sachs to find a buyer. Russell Stover, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is the third-largest U.S. candy company by sales, with annual revenues of around $500 million.

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- Reuters