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Hershey Trust Decides to Kiss Off All Bids

September 18, 2002|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Board members of the charitable trust that controls Hershey Foods Corp. said late Tuesday that they would not sell the nation's largest candy maker after rejecting all offers.

"The trust board has rejected all the bids that it received. It is asking the company to end the process of exploring the sale," Hershey Trust Co. spokesman Rick Kelly said.

All 17 trustees met behind closed doors in a suburban Philadelphia hotel Tuesday to conduct board business and discuss the secretive process of seeking bids on its controlling stake. The $5.9-billion trust, which controls 77% of the company's shareholder votes and 31% of its common stock, announced July 25 that it had ordered Hershey Foods executives to seek bids on its stake. More than half the trust's assets are invested in the stock, and board members say the trust could be hurt if the company's finances falter.

The potential sale, however, sparked protests from the public and politicians, who said the interests of the community would be pushed aside in any sale.

A state judge granted an injunction on a sale, pending a Hershey Trust Co. appeal, and state Atty. Gen. Mike Fisher had petitioned the judge to require the trust to seek court approval before it could sell the candy maker.

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