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Wrigley releases details of merger with Mars

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Wrigley Jr. Co. has revealed some of the details of a possible merger with Mars in preliminary paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A proxy filed last week said that if Wrigley backs out of the $23 biillion deal, it now would have to pay Mars $690 million. On the other hand, if Mars pulls out it must pay $1 billion to Wrigley.

Mars raised its per share bid after Wrigley said the initial offer of $76 per share was too low. On April 17, Mars raised the bid to $77 per share, but later made a final offer of $80 per share. Wrigley accepted and a merger agreement was announced April 28.

Reports said that a recent meeting between Wrigley chairman, William Wrigley Jr., Mars president, Paul S. Michaels, and Mars chief financial officer, Olivier C. Goudet, went smoothly.

“Michaels and Goudet also said that this was a friendly proposal to be discussed on an exclusive basis and that Mars would withdraw its proposal if the board of directors of the company was not interested in pursuing the combination or if the company wanted to conduct any type of auction process,” the statement said.

Other details of the change include Mars’ plans to transfer Skittles and Starburst brands to Wrigley. The company has said that it believes Skittles and Starburst would benefit from the confectioner’s “sugar” line, rather than staying in Mars’ chocolate-heavy lineup.

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FDA adds isomaltulose to list of tooth-safe sweeteners

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCKVILLE, Md. Isomaltulose, an artificial sweetener, is getting a boost from the Food and Drug Administration after being added to a list of non-cariogenic carbohydrate sweeteners. The ruling is effective immediately and proponents and marketers of the sweetener now may promote its non-association with dental caries.

“FDA is taking this action to complete the rulemaking initiated with the interim final rule,” the FDA said in an article released in the Federal Register May 27.

Manufacturers using isomaltulose in products like gum will now be permitted to make claims like “does not promote tooth decay” and “may reduce the risk of tooth decay.” Items with the sweetener must be completely sugar-free and must not bring the user’s plaque pH to a level lower than below 5.7 for up to 30 minutes after use.

In 2006, Cargill petitioned to have isomaltulose added to the FDA’s list alongside other sweeteners like D-tagatose and sucralose. Isomaltulose is marketed as a sweetener by such companies as Beneo-Palatinat (Palatinose) and Cargill (Xtend).

The FDA approved the entry of isomaltulose to the non-cariogenic list because it proved not to be “fermented by oral bacteria to an extent sufficient to lower dental plaque pH to levels that would contribute to the erosion of dental enamel.”

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Heinz gains in earnings for 2008

BY Jenna Duncan

PITTSBURGH H.J. Heinz Co. today reported sales growth in fiscal 2008 and an increase in earning. Sales surpassed $10 billion for the first time ever, the company said. Earnings have risen by 11 percent per share, up to $2.63 from $2.38 in the last year, and annual sales rose 12 percent to $10.1 billion.

Heinz branded products saw an increase of 14 percent and Weight Watchers and Weight Watchers Smart Ones brands, rose by 26 percent growth and 25 percent in emerging markets, respectively.

“Heinz once again delivered exceptional financial results in FY08 as we significantly increased sales, profits and operating free cash flow while also increasing marketing by 15 percent and introducing more than 200 new products,” chairman, president and chief executive officer, William Johnson said.

Heinz also reported an 8.5 percent increase in operating income to $1.57 billion. Heinz attributes the rise to increases in product volume, better pricing and productivity, and good exchange rates in foreign currencies. The company said that year-long net income increased 7 percent to $845 million for continuing operations.

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