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Hershey buying maker of SkinnyPop in $1.2 billion deal

A Hershey's chocolate bar

Chocolate and candy maker The Hershey Co. is acquiring Amplify Snack Brands for $1.2 billion as it ventures into the healthy snack aisle. | AP file photo

NEW YORK — Chocolate and candy maker The Hershey Co. is acquiring Amplify Snack Brands for $1.2 billion as it ventures into the healthy snack aisle.

The boards of both companies have agreed on the deal in which Hershey will acquire all outstanding stock of Amplify for $12 per share in cash. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

Amplify, which makes SkinnyPop popcorn, Tyrrells potato chips and Oatmega protein bars, was founded in 2014 and is based in Austin, Texas. The company has about 600 employees.

Chicagoans Andrew Friedman and Pamela Netsky founded SkinnyPop and are on the board of Amplify Snack Brands.

Shares in Amplify, which closed at $7 on Friday, jumped more than 70 percent, to nearly $12, in premarket trading on news of the deal.