KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (AP) -- Hershey Foods Corp. has been removed from the auction block by the charitable trust that controls the company, ending weeks of heated political opposition and legal wrangling over the fate of the nation's largest candy maker.
Hershey had been expected to receive bids as high as $15 billion from food giants such as Kraft Foods and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. Experts said the board's decision was likely influenced by local leaders who argued a sale would have devastated the economy of Hershey, Pa., where the company was founded more than a century ago.
"They ran into so much turmoil," said Samuel Weaver, professor of finance at Lehigh University and former director of financial planning and analysis at Hershey Foods.
All 17 trustees met behind closed doors in a suburban Philadelphia hotel Tuesday to conduct regular board business and discuss the secretive process of seeking bids on its controlling stake in the company.
Late Tuesday, the trust issued a statement saying the sale plans were called off.
The $5.9 billion trust, which controls 77 percent of the company's shareholder votes and 31 percent of its common stock, made the surprising announcement July 25 that it had ordered Hershey Foods executives to seek bids on its stake.
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