Kilchberg / CH. (ls) Swiss Lindt + Sprüngli AG, manufacturer of premium quality chocolate worldwide, is to acquire the traditional US family business Russell Stover Candies Inc. headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. This will greatly complement Lindt + Sprüngli´s existing premium chocolate portfolio in the world´s biggest chocolate marketplace. Russell Stover was founded in 1923 in Denver and soon focused on the manufacture of top quality gift pralines, a product which ranks highly in the US chocolate tradition. In 1993, Russell Stover acquired the Whitman´s brand which was founded in 1842 and is one of the country´s oldest names in chocolate. Today, Russell Stover / Whitman´s is a leading manufacturer of pralines and seasonal candies in North America. Russell Stover / Whitman´s makes chocolate products at four production sites. Its latest turnover stood at around 500 million USD. This biggest and most important strategic acquisition in the company´s history will give Lindt + Sprüngli an established presence throughout the USA. The addition of the Russell Stover and Whitman´s brands perfectly complements Lindt + Sprüngli´s existing chocolate portfolio and will make the company the Number 3 North American chocolate manufacturer. Ernst Tanner, Chairman of the Lindt + Sprüngli Board of Directors and Group CEO: «This biggest and most important strategic acquisition to date in Lindt + Sprüngli´s history is a unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business and will greatly enhance the group´s status in the world´s biggest overall chocolate marketplace».