November 16, 2023
CPG giant Mars Inc. to acquire Britain's Hotel Chocolat for $662 million. The specialist chocolate manufacturer agreed to the deal to help the company grow internationally, reported Reuters.
"We think that this is a knock-out bid," Peel Hunt analysts said, adding they were not expecting any counterbid.
Hotel Chocolat's Chief Executive Angus Thirlwell and co-founder Peter Harris, who both own 27% of the equity, according to LSEG data, have said they will accept the offer, meaning the deal will earn them about 144 million pounds each.
Set up 20 years ago, Hotel Chocolat's aim was to make chocolate exciting, and it succeeded in bringing ethical affordable luxury to the British high street, with over 130 stores.
Thirlwell said he had taken the company as far as he could as a small independent player. Yet he plans to still lead the company for the next five years under the ownership of Mars, home of M&M's, Snickers, and Skittles.
While the Hotel Chocolat brand was making progress in Japan and the United States, he said, despite previous setbacks, the company would soon need to set up manufacturing and build infrastructure in those markets, requiring capital and resources.
"Partnering with Mars opens up the possibilities that those things will be a lot easier and quicker," he said in an interview.
Thirlwell expects the Hotel Chocolat staff of 3,000 to be kept on after the transition.
The deal is expected to complete by the end of January 2024.
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