US chewing gum maker Wm. Wrigley Jr has announced that it has signed a purchase agreement with Agrolimen, a privately-held Spanish food conglomerate, for certain confectionery businesses of its Joyco Group.

Wrigley said it is to pay US$272m for the businesses, funded from the company's cash and existing credit lines. The acquisition is expected to add to overall company earnings by 2005.

The transaction includes Joyco's operations in China, France, India, Italy, Poland and Spain, as well as Cafosa, its chewing and bubble gum base business. Not included in the transaction are Joyco's operations in the Americas or any of its other joint ventures.

With the acquisition, Wrigley will gain brands such as Boomer bubble gum, Pim Pom lollipops, and Solano candy, currently sold in over 70 countries.

"Our purchase of Joyco aligns with our key strategic choices by adding strong bubble gum brands to our portfolio and increasing our scale in gum base production, providing additional diversification into both chewy and hard candies, including lollipops, and further expanding our distribution and range of offerings in Europe as well as key development markets, like China and India," said Peter Hempstead, senior vice president of worldwide strategy and new business at Wrigley.