CORPORATIONS: Merger of Champions

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Three months ago handsome Charles Luckman, 35, vowed he would sell The Pepsodent Co. of Chicago to no one (TIME, April 10). Last week, amid considerable commercial mystery, President Luckman sold the company for "upwards of $10 million." The buyer was Lever Brothers Co. of Mass., subsidiary of the Netherlands Lever Brothers & Unilever, N.V., which is now controlled by the British company of the same name. They make Vimms (a vitamin product); Lifebuoy Shaving Cream; Lux, Swan, Fairy and Lifebuoy soaps; Rinso, Gold Dust and Silver Dust; Spry and Coro shortenings.

For Lever Bros, the deal was a gold mine. Pepsodent grossed $3 million in 1943 and is leading the toothpaste field on its slogan of "Pepsodent with Irium." Irium-smiling "Chuck" Luckman, the man who put the flash in Pepsodent, will stay on as president, will make no changes in policy, and will keep the famed, funny $15,000-a-week Bob Hope radio show to advertise only Pepsodent. Said Luckman: "This is a merger of champions. Together we ought to do pretty well."

The major reason for Pepsodent's change of mind about selling was probably that Chicago's advertising millionaire, Albert Lasker, for 25 years mastermind of profitable Pepsodent, and Kenneth Smith, son of the company's founder and its chief stockholder, wanted to get out. Under the terms of the sale all stock, including Luckman's 15%, goes to Lever Bros.