Ferrero strengthens Russian operations Ferrero subsidiary Ferrero Russia CJSC has invested RUR 200m (€5m) in the Vladimir region, according to local news reports. The company hopes that the new factory will produce up to 25 thousand tonnes of chocolate and confectionery products once facilities are up and running in 2009, the Russian news agency IA Regum said this week. Many confectionery companies, including Nestle and Cadbury, have expanded their operations in Eastern European countries in recent times, as lower wages and production costs make the area very profitable for food companies. There is also a burgeoning local market in the region for Ferrero chocolate products, which include Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Kinder bars and the ubiquitous Nutella chocolate spread. According to Euromonitor, the Italy-based company is now the largest privately owned chocolate factory in Western Europe - currently holding 8.3 per cent of the market. Investor group purchases Necco The New England Confectionery Company (Necco), the oldest multi-line confectionery company in the US, said this week it has been purchased by a group of investors. The company has been bought by American Capital Strategies in partnerhip with Clear Creek Capital, as well as Necco chief executive officer Domenic Antonellis, although the parties did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. According to American Capital, the move will allow Necco to expand its business by acquiring new products, extending existing lines and contracting out manufacturing. "The investment in Necco represents an incredible opportunity to partner with an industry veteran to strengthen a company with iconic, nationally- recognized confectionery brands," said Myung Yi, American Capital managing director. "We are also gaining a highly talented management team with proven capabilities in the confectionery industry," he added. Nireus offloads confectionery unit After pledging to focus on aquaculture late last year, Greece-based firm Nireus has now concluded the sale of its Marant sugared fruits division to Vanis. The €7.6m sale was approved by the Greek General Assembly on the 10th December 2007, the company said. According to the Financial Times, fish farming companies are currently struggling in the market, as fish consumption is down but demand for variety is up. Several companies, including Nireus, are currently engaged in consolidation activity, the FT said.