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

"Hershey's snack mix and meat snacks products, combined with Amplify's Skinny Pop, Tyrrells, Oatmega, Paqui and other international brands, will allow us to capture more consumer snacking occasions by creating a broader portfolio of brands," said Michele Buck, The Hershey Company President and Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.

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.

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