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Lindt close to deal to buy Russell Stover -source

July 13 (Reuters) - Swiss chocolate maker Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Spruengli is in advanced discussions to acquire family-owned U.S. candy business Russell Stover, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Russell Stover, known for its boxed chocolates, is the third-largest U.S. candy company by sales. Lindt is the maker of Lindor chocolate balls and gold foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies. Lindt said in March that its North American sales should top $1 billion this year.

The Ward family put privately held Russell Stover up for sale earlier this year and has been working with Goldman Sachs to find a buyer.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters previously that Russell Stover could be valued at around $1 billion.

Representatives for Russell Stover and Lindt did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Sunday.

Lindt is expected to announce its sales figures for the first half of the year on Tuesday.

Russell Stover also produces Whitman's brand chocolates and has its products in more than 70,000 drug stores, card and gift shops, grocery stores, department stores and retail stores throughout the United States and in more than 20 countries worldwide.

The Financial Times previously reported the talks with Lindt.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran; Additional reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)