By Jean Lotus
Less than a month after the death of the company's 93-year-old patriarch and board chairman, Ferrara Pan Candy Co. is in negotiations to merge, sell or somehow align with Farley's & Sathers Candy Co., Crain's Chicago Business reported Wednesday. Farley & Sather's, makers of Chuckles and Brach's candy, would replace their Chicago-based CEO with Salvatore Ferrara II, the head of Ferrara Pan.
The 104-year-old Forest Park candy company is run by five generations of cousins and descendants of Salvatore Ferrara I. The original Ferrara and his two brothers-in-law, Salvatore Buffardi and Anello Pagano started the company near Taylor Street in Chicago in 1908. The company now has revenues of some $400 million, according to Crain's. The business magazine cited unnamed sources at Farley's saying the companies had signed a letter of intent to explore an agreement.
Chairman Nello V. Ferrara, 93, of River Forest, died Feb. 2. Since then, the US flag has flown at half-mast in front of the factory at 7301 W. Harrison St.
A family and shareholder feud in May 2011 ousted and then reinstated Sal Ferrara II as CEO and ended up with a call to Forest Park police. At that time, Sal Ferrara was hosting visiting candy dignitaries at the National Confectioners Association's 2011 Sweets and Snacks Expo at McCormick Place. Crain's reported in May that shareholders were dissatisfied with what was perceived as lavish spending.
Also in May, Salvatore told Crain's that there was no interest in selling the company, merging or adding board members.
Ferrara declined to comment about merger plans Wednesday night.
A private equity firm Catterton Partners Corp. of Greenwich, Conn. owns Farley's, which has sales of $615 million, according to Crain's. The company acquired Brach's Confections in 2007. The company is headquartered in Round Lake, Minn. Catterton is reportedly seeking a buyer for the company.