California Company Hopes To Line Up Nestlé Candy Bid

Ellia Kassoff, the chief executive of Leaf Brands, told the Orange County Business Journal that his Newport Beach-based company plans to bid for Nestlé's candy operations despite a massive size disparity between the two companies.

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A California candy company reportedly plans to compete with some of the industry's giants should Nestlé's U.S. candy business come up for sale.

Ellia Kassoff, the chief executive of Leaf Brands, told the Orange County Business Journal that his Newport Beach-based company plans to bid for Nestlé's operations despite a massive size disparity between the two companies.

Leaf owns its flagship Hydrox cookies and former Nestle labels Wacky Wafers and Tart ‘n Tinys, but the company reported $5 million in annual sales and set an ambitious goal of $25 million for next year.

Nestlé, by contrast, is the world's largest food company and its U.S. candy brands, including Butterfinger, Raisinets and Nerds, accounted for $922 million in sales last year.

The Swiss company is considering a sale of those assets — which could reportedly fetch $2 billion — amid pressure from prominent investors to divest underperforming segments.

Kassoff hopes to meet the steep price tag with help from private equity investment. He said that Leaf could offer better value — and draw less antitrust scrutiny — than bids from top Nestlé rivals such as Hershey or Mars.

“We’re obviously the small guy, but we’re the value-add guy,” Kassoff told the OCBJ.

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