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IMPACT OF NABISCO SALE ON LOCAL PLANTS UNCERTAIN

Nabisco Holdings Corp.'s locations in Buffalo and Niagara Falls will soon be part of Philip Morris Companies, but it's too early to say whether the ownership change will mean any changes for those sites, a Nabisco spokesman said.

Philip Morris announced Sunday that it will acquire New Jersey-based Nabisco for $14.9 billion plus the assumption of $4 billion in debt.

"Any plans for integrating the businesses are just beginning," said John Barrows, a Nabisco spokesman. The deal is expected to close in October.

Nabisco has a long history in Western New York. It has made Milk-Bone, the largest nationally branded dog snack, in Buffalo since 1957. The company employs 225 people at its plant at 243 Urban St., near the Buffalo Museum of Science, and last year it completed a $5.5 million upgrade of the plant.

The company made Shredded Wheat in Niagara Falls for decades until several years ago, when Kraft General Foods bought RJR Nabisco Holdings' ready-to-eat cold cereal business. Nabisco converted the Niagara Falls plant to produce Triscuits, and now employs 226 people there.

Kraft moved production of Shredded Wheat to plants in Niagara Falls, Ont., and Naperville, Ill. Philip Morris owns Kraft General Foods, so now Nabisco and Kraft General Foods will have the same parent company.

Last year, Nabisco announced plans for $2 million, 40,000-square-foot food warehouse and distribution center in Batavia. Details on that project were not immediately available on Monday, but plans call for that site to employ about 15 people.

Kraft Foods oversees marketing of cheese products as well as brands such as Post cereals. The deal to acquire Nabisco fills a gap for products such as cookies and crackers.

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