Sweet Products, the privately-owned Belgium-based chocolate producer, is said to be in talks to buy French peer Cémoi.

According to a report in Belgian business newspaper De Tijd, Sweet Products is intent on acquiring Cémoi and, if successful, the deal would create a business generating a turnover of EUR1.2bn (US$1.46bn).

De Tijd‘s report said Sweet Products announced yesterday (18 May) it is entering exclusive negotiations with Cémoi and quoted its CEO Jean-Marie van Logtestijn, as saying: “We want to take over Cémoi completely.”

Just Food has asked both Sweet Products and Cémoi for confirmation of the story and awaiting responses.

Sweet Products, a branded and own-label manufacturer, is owned by the Dutch businessman Fons Walder. It has seven chocolate factories in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, plus Belgian ice-cream factories and a toffee factory in the UK.

The company is the owner of assets including Benelux chocolate producer Baronie, German confectioner Stollwerck and Swiss firm Chocolate Alprose. In 2017, Sweet Products expanded into ice cream with the acquisition of Belgian business Glacio.

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Cémoi, which dates back to 1814, employs 3,200 people in 14 factories in Europe and the US. It also has a cocoa-bean processing facility in Cote d’Ivoire. It mainly sells chocolate under the Cémoi brand name.

In September, French newspaper Les Echos reported Cémoi, which is said to have a turnover of roughly EUR750m, had decided to open up its capital and look for investment.

“Staying on a family model is an anomaly, given the size of the group,” Patrick Poirrier, Cémoi’s president, was quoted as saying at the time.