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Nestle-Mars' merger denied; Dole role real; North American restructuring is complete.

Nestle-Mars' Merger Denied; Dole Role Real; North American Restructuring is Complete

Nestle S.A. has flatly denied that it is engaged in merger discussions with Mars Inc. However, the Swiss food giant would not refute rumors that talks had taken place with the family-owned American confectionery company that is shaking up a number of European ice cream markets.

"There are no negotiations going on with Mars," Reuters quoted a Nestle spokesperson as saying. But when asked whether other, less formal contacts had been made, the response was: "That is as far as I'm prepared to go."

Schweizerische Handelszeitung, a Swiss business weekly, has reported that succession problems at Mars had prompted family members to feel out Helmut Maucher, Nestle chief executive, on takeover possibilities.

A Mars official reacted to the article this way: "There is absolutely no truth in it."

Meanwhile, in the USA Nestle continues to build on its presence in the ice cream and novelty trade. After acquiring the Drumstick Company in early 1991, in September it announced a long term licensing agreement to manufacture and market Dole brand Fruit 'n Juice bars and other frozen snacks. The products had formerly been packed by Southland Corp.'s Dairies Group in Dallas.

"We think we can bring a stronger marketing focus to the Dole line," said David Kewer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Columbus, Ohio-based Nestle Dairy Systems. His operation is responsible for products such as the Nestle Crunch ice cream bar.

According to a published report, San Francisco-based Dole Packaged Foods, a unit of Castle & Cooke, has seen annual revenues in its frozen novelties line slip from a high of $75 million during the 1980s to just $40 million in 1990. It has been suggested that Nestle will be better able to promote the Dole label in specialty markets and places where single-serve products are sold, such as ball parks. Dole's sales strength was largely based in supermarkets.

Further strengthening its ice cream portfolio, Nestle USA announced plans to buy Eskimo Pie Corp. by the end of 1991. The Richmond, Va.-based subsidiary of Reynolds Metals Co. originated the chocolate-covered ice cream bar in 1921. Sales during the first half of last year were put at $31.1 million. Add to that the estimated $100 million earned by Drumstick annually, then the scope of Nestle's latest acquisition efforts becomes apparent.

Executive Shifts

On the executive personnel front, a number of shifts took place on Jan. 1 that "put the final touches on a major restructuring effort in the United States, resulting in a unified corporation combining all of our food businesses," said Chairman Maucher.

He announced the changes as follows:

* Timm F. Crull, Nestle USA president and CEO, has assumed the role of executive vice president of parent company Nestle S.A.'s general management. He has also been named chairman of Nestle USA, and will retain his CEO title.

Maintaining dual offices in Glendale, Calif., and at world headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, Crull now oversees activities in both the USA and Canada.

* Joe M. Weller, former Carnation Company executive vice president, and for the past two years head of Nestle Australian operations, is now Nestle USA president. He has the added title of chief operating officer.

* Frank C. Cella, president of Nestle Enterprises Limited in Canada, has taken on the added duties of CEO and market head, reporting directly to Crull. Headquartered in Ontario, the unit's 1990 sales topped C$ 1 billion.

* Ian W. Murray, who had been chairman, CEO and market head in Canada, is now non-executive chairman. In addition, he will tackle special global assignments for Nestle S.A.

Chairman Maucher noted that Nestle S.A. operations have been divided into five zones. In the USA, 15 food and beverage companies have been merged into six business units alligned by products or services. Sales in that market during 1990 were US$ 7.122 billion, with combined North American volume accounting for 25% of global receipts. Nestle S.A.'s consolidated sales were $36 billion.

PHOTO : Timm F. Crull, Nestle S.A., Executive V.P.

PHOTO : Joe M. Weller, Nestle USA, President, COO
COPYRIGHT 1992 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Nestle S.A.; Mars Inc.; Dole Food Co.'s Dole Packaged Foods Co.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:690
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