HERSHEY, Pa. -- The head of Hershey Trust Co., which holds a majority of voting shares in chocolate maker Hershey Co., said the company was not for sale, despite a media report that a new takeover bid could be in the offing.
Our position is what it has been, which is the company is not for sale, Robert Vowler, president and CEO of the trust, told Reuters.
The trust controls 78% of the voting shares in Hershey Co. and 31% of the economic interest.
Business Week reported in its March 27 edition that a bid [image-nocss] may surface for Hershey, citing Michael Metz of Oppenheimer, which owns Hershey shares. The bid might be difficult to resist, the magazine quoted Metz as saying.
The company was nearly sold in 2002. It initially put itself up for sale by the Hershey Trust Co. But former students of the Milton Hershey School, the beneficiary of the trust and others in the Hershey community came out in force against a sale and the Pennsylvania attorney general sued and won an injunction to stop a deal.
Hershey received a $12.5 billion bid from Wm Wrigley Jr. Co. But under pressure, the trust called off the sale plan and said the Wrigley bid was rejected because the offer was in cash and stock and would have complicated the trusts' diversification efforts. Another bid of $10.2 billion from Nestle SA and Cadbury Schweppes Plc was rejected as too low, the trust said.
The majority of the Hershey Trust later left in an overhaul of the body.
Vowler said last week that nothing significant has changed in the regulatory landscape that would make a sale more likely today than in 2002.
Hershey has been one of the better performing companies in the U.S. food sector, using acquisitions and new products to drive sales increases that exceeded the category. But that pace has slowed of late and has put pressure on the company's stock.
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