Hershey is expanding further beyond chocolate, agreeing to buy the owner of Tyrrell’s potato chips and SkinnyPop popcorn for $1.6 billion, including assumed debt.
The US candy giant agreed to buy Amplify Snack Brands for $12 a share, a 71% premium to Friday’s closing price of $7 a share.
Amplify, based in Austin, Texas, has a market capitalisation of $537 million, and the company has about $600 million in debt.
Hershey’s move signals the intent of new Chief Executive Officer Michele Buck to lead consolidation in the snacks industry after the maker of Kisses sweets rejected a takeover bid from Oreos maker Mondelez International.
During a March investor meeting, Hershey’s management said it is particularly interested in companies that have accelerated growth in the US snack industry.
Hershey shares have gained 10% this year, valuing the company at $24 billion.
The US confectionery business has been consolidating amid sluggish demand for chocolate. Among other deals in the sector, Mars purchased a minority stake in another in snack company, Kind Bar, last month, while Kellogg signed a $600 million deal for protein bar maker Rxbar in October.
Hershey has been mentioned as one of the companies planning to bid for Nestlé’s US confectionery division.
Big marketers like Hershey have been seeking growth from niche acquisitions amid waning consumer enthusiasm for mainstream brands. Amplify also owns Paqui tortilla chips and Oatmega bars made with whey protein from grass-fed cows in New Zealand.