CHICAGO: Iconic US chewing gum maker William Wrigley Jr Company has been swallowed up by confectionery giant  Mars - a deal bankrolled in part by billionaire financier Warren Buffet.

The $23 billion (€14.7bn; £11.5bn) group will become the world's biggest confectionery company, with an estimated global market share of 14.4%. The deal could prompt a flurry of consolidation moves within the industry.

Mars will move its sugar confectionery assets such as Skittles and Starburst into the Wrigley company, allowing it to focus on chocolate.

Last year, Wrigley, until now family-controlled, acquired an 80% stake in Russian chocolate maker A Kornukov.
The firm had been trying to gain a foothold in the chocolate market since its failed attempt to buy another iconic US confectioner, Hershey, in 2002.

In 2004 Wrigley bought the LifeSavers and Altoids brands from Kraft Food for $1.5bn.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff