Mon, 11 Dec 2023

LONDON, UK: In a deal announced this week, U.S. chocolate giant Mars will buy UK chocolate maker Hotel Chocolat for £534 million ($662 million).

"We think that this is a knock-out bid," Peel Hunt analysts said, adding they were not expecting any counter bids.

Both owning 27 percent of equity according to LSEG data, Hotel Chocolat's Chief Executive Angus Thirlwell and co-founder Peter Harris, who founded the company 20 years ago, have said that they will accept the offer, meaning the deal will earn them some £144 million each.

Hotel Chocolat said its goal was to make chocolate exciting and bring ethical, affordable luxury to the British high street. It currently has more than 130 stores around the UK.

Thirlwell said he had taken the company as far as he could as a small independent player, adding he plans to continue leading the company for the next five years under the ownership of family-owned Mars, whose brands include M&M's, Snickers, and Skittles.

While the Hotel Chocolat brand was making progress in Japan and the U.S. and after overcoming previous setbacks, the company would soon need to establish manufacturing and build infrastructure in those markets, requiring capital and resources, he added.

"Partnering with Mars opens up the possibilities that those things will be a lot easier and quicker," Thirlwell said in an interview.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of January.

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