UK Markets open in 7 hrs 13 mins

Nutella maker Ferrero scoops up owner of Blue Bunny ice creams

Jars of Nutella spread produced by Italian confectionary maker Ferrero are displayed at a supermarket's shelf in Subang Jaya

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Ferrero has agreed to buy U.S. based Wells Enterprises, which makes several ice creams brands including Blue Bunny, Bomb Pop and Halo Top, the maker of Nutella chocolate spread said on Wednesday.

The acquisition fits into Ferrero's strategic growth ambitions for the ice cream category, the Italian group said in a statement, adding that the two companies were both family-owned and had an extensive experience in confectionery.

The groups did not reveal the financial details of the deal. Wells, based in the town of Le Mars, Iowa, is expected to generate around $1.7 billion in revenue this year.

The Wells Enterprises' transaction is the latest in a string of deals that the Italian group has completed in the United States since 2017.

Ferrero and its companies can now count more than 8,000 employees, nine offices and 18 plants in North America.

Wells, which was founded in 1913 as a dairy delivery wagon business, has become the world's largest family owned and managed ice cream company.

Ferrero itself was founded in 1946 in a small pastry shop in Alba, near Turin in northern Italy, and has turned into a global group, boosted by the aggressive acquisition campaign launched by its Executive Chairman Giovanni Ferrero.

"This represents a win-win partnership, bringing together ice cream experts and confectionery champions," Giovanni Ferrero said in a statement.

"Together, we have the power of one and are well placed to grow and compete in the ice cream market," he added.

Ferrero bought Spanish ice cream company ICFC in a two-stage deal in 2019 and 2021.

The Wells' transaction, subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in early 2023.

UBS acted as financial advisor and McDermott Will & Emery LLP as legal counsel to Wells. Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal counsel to Ferrero.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Keith Weir)