UPDATE 1-Wrigley holders approve sale to Mars, Oct. close set

Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:39am EDT

(Adds details, comment from chairman, stock activity, CHICAGO dateline)

CHICAGO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Wm Wrigley Jr Co WWY.N shareholders overwhelmingly approved the gum and candy maker's $23 billion sale to Mars Inc on Thursday, a move that will create the world's largest confectionary company.

The companies said they expect to close the deal on Oct. 6.

Wrigley's sale to Mars marks the end of independence for the maker of Juicy Fruit gum and Life Savers candies, which was founded in 1891 and whose shares have been traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 1923.

Mars, known for M&M's, Snickers and other candies, was founded in 1911 and is privately held.

The family of founder William Wrigley Jr. controlled a large portion of Wrigley's shares and financial analysts often commented that the company in many ways also operated like a private company, seldom meeting with them or the press.

Chicago-based Wrigley agreed to be acquired by Mars in April for $80 per share. Shares of Wrigley rose 12 cents to $79.65 soon after the results of the vote were announced.

Wrigley has faced increasing pressure from Britain's Cadbury Plc CBRY.L, whose brands include Dentyne and Trident. Wrigley's growth has mainly been driven by emerging markets such as China.

"We must respect the past but at all times do what's right for the future," Chairman Bill Wrigley said at a special shareholder meeting on Thursday.

Warren Buffett helped to finance the deal. The deal will give Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) a minority stake in Wrigley, which will be a subsidiary of Mars.

When it announced the deal, Mars said other financing would be provided by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N). (Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Brad Dorfman)

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