Mars Inc. and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. were close to a pact to acquire Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. for more than $22 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

A deal would unite two icons of the U.S. candy business: Wrigley, maker of the eponymous chewing gum, and Mars, the closely held company behind Snickers chocolate bars and M&M's.

The transaction was expected to be announced as early as Monday, the people said. Both companies declined to comment.

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Terms of the deal weren't immediately clear, but Wrigley has a stock market value of about $17.3 billion and it appeared that the buyers were prepared to offer a rich premium.

The Wrigley family helped build Chicago and remains one of its best-known dynasties. Wrigley's Michigan Avenue headquarters is one of the city's landmark buildings. The family's name is on everything from the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium to the Wrigleyville neighborhood to part of the new Millennium Park.

Mr. Buffett is famous for confidence in the staying power of iconic consumer brands such as Coca-Cola. Though he normally does deals without a partner, he has long admired Mars.