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Lance Agrees To Merge With Snyder's

Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:37am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The peanut butter and cheese crackers of Lance Inc. are just one vote away from being combined with the pretzels of Snyder's of Hanover Inc. as the companies aim to form the country's No. 2 producer of salty snacks after PepsiCo Inc.'s Frito-Lay division.

Shareholders of Charlotte-based Lance cast 96 percent of their votes Thursday in favor of issuing the stock needed to merge with privately-held Snyder's of Hanover, Pa.

Snyder's shareholders will vote on the merger Friday, and if they approve, the companies could complete the move Monday. The new company would be called Snyder's-Lance Inc.

Lance shares were trading at $23.25 Thursday afternoon on the Nasdaq exchange, not far from the level they reached after the merger proposal was announced in July.

Executives from both firms said the cost-cutting opportunities and expanded markets created by the merger are necessary to be able to compete for America's snack bowls.

"This transaction combines two great organizations into a dynamic and competitive company that will deliver long-term value to our stockholders, customers, business partners and the communities where we do business," Lance CEO David V. Singer said in a statement issued by the company.

Singer will keep his current job in the same company and could make as much as $3.6 million in benefits because the company's board considers the merger a "change in control" since Lance will no longer control most of the stock. The benefits include incentive payments, vesting of stock and a special $3.75 special cash dividend for Lance shareholders, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Singer and five other Lance executives could get a combined $11 million in benefits, according to the merger documents.

The merger will give Snyder's shareholders 50.1 percent and Lance shareholders 49.9 percent of the combined company, which will be based in Charlotte with additional executive offices remaining at Snyder's headquarters in Pennsylvania.

Lance and Snyder's date back to a similar era. Lance started in 1913 when Charlotte food broker Philip L. Lance got stuck with 500 pounds of raw peanuts and started roasting and selling them for a nickel a bag. The company's famous snack crackers were created two year later when Lance's wife and daughters had the idea to spread the peanut butter Lance started making between two saltine crackers.

Snyder's was started in 1909 when the founder of the Hanover Canning Company started making pretzels. It combined 15 years later with a family that made angel food cakes in the basement and fried potato chips at home and sold them door-to-door as well as at fairs and farmers markets.

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