Snacks & Candy

Topps Won't Sell Candy Business

Completes strategic review; will trim management

NEW YORK -- The Topps Co. Inc., the maker of Bazooka bubble gum and baseball trading cards, said earlier this week that the previously disclosed process to evaluate a possible sale of its confectionery business has been terminated.

The process, conducted with the assistance of outside advisors including Lehman Brothers Inc., took nearly seven months to conclude, the company said. Levels of interest by prospective purchasers during that time were not commensurate with the board's valuation of the asset, it said.

Arthur T. Shorin, [image-nocss] chairman and CEO of the New York City-based company, said, "Our board remains committed to maximizing shareholder value. As such, simultaneous with exploring a possible transaction, management completed its work with outside consultants on a comprehensive strategic review aimed at improving top and bottom line performance of the domestic confectionery and entertainment businesses.

He added, Actions to implement results are well underway. Among them, the confectionery and entertainment organizations will operate independently to the extent practical. We are also streamlining reporting relationships and eliminating certain upper and middle management positions. After accounting for nearly $900,000 of headcount additions for marketing and new product development, principally directed at top line growth, we expect the net personnel related cost savings to be approximately $2.5 million annually. Work is also in progress to reduce nonpersonnel related costs."

Founded in 1938, Topps is a leading creator and marketer of confectionery and entertainment products. Along with Bazooka, confectionery brands include Ring Pop, Push Pop, Baby Bottle Pop and Juicy Drop Pop lollipops. Topps entertainment products include trading cards, sticker album collections and collectible games.

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