The Cadbury chocolate owner has reportedly been chasing Athens-based Chipita for a number of years but its founder and chief executive Spyros Theodoropoulos was said to have been reluctant to sell. Reports then emerged in April over a possible deal.

Theodoropoulos has now succumbed, with Mondelez paying around US$2bn for the business. “Chipita, for more than 40 years, based on quality and innovation, created a new category of snacks loved by consumers internationally,” Theodoropoulos said in a statement today (26 May). “I am certain that the acquisition of Chipita by Mondelez International, one of the world’s leading snacking companies, will create new prospects for its people and products.”

Chipita makes corn snacks, crisps and baked snacks under brands such as its namesake, along with 7 Days, Finetic and Chipicao, which together generated sales last year of about $580m. The business has 13 manufacturing plants and distributes its products in more than 50 countries.

US-headquartered Mondelez said the deal brings new categories to its own set-up, and a “significantly increased presence in the fast-growing central and eastern European markets where Chipita’s business is especially well-positioned”.

“Welcoming Chipita’s delicious pastry products into the Mondelez International family advances our strategy to become the global leader in broader snacking,” Dirk Van de Put, the chairman and CEO of the Oreo biscuit owner, said. “Their iconic brands and significant scale across so many attractive geographies make them a strong strategic complement to our existing portfolio and future growth ambitions in Europe and beyond.”

The Chipita transaction adds to a busy year for Mondelez in terms of M&A. It recently acquired the UK-based sports nutrition business Grenade, and in March struck deals for Australian biscuits and crackers firm Gourmet Food Holdings and better-for-you chocolate and snacks maker Hu Master Holdings in the US.

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Mondelez said it will use Chipita’s central and eastern European network to enhance its own distribution in the region, and will also pursue innovation and co-branding opportunities to enter new categories.

The deal is subject to competition approvals and does not include Chipita’s meat-processing business or its minority interest in an Indian joint venture with Britannia Industries. That JV was formed in 2017 and is known as Britchip Foods, with Chipita holding 40%.