In a surprise move, Dauphin County Judge Warren Morgan granted a request by state Attorney General Mike Fisher for an order preventing the sale on grounds that such a deal could pose irreparable harm to Hershey’s hometown community in central Pennsylvania, according to Reuters.
“I am pleased the judge has stopped this sale to give us the chance to raise these issues. We need to step back and take a hard look at how a sale of Hershey Foods would affect the Hershey community,” Fisher, a Republican who is running for state governor, said in a statement.
Morgan halted the sale by the controlling shareholder,
the Hershey Trust Co., until he can determine whether it
would require court approval. The company said it would
The orphans court, which oversees trusts, deeds and fiduciaries, has jurisdiction over Hershey Foods because 77% of the company’s voting rights are held by the $5.4 billion Milton Hershey School Trust for disadvantaged children.
The Hershey Trust Co., which serves as trustee for the school, announced plans in July for a sale that Wall Street analysts say could top $12 billion. Likely bidders include Nestle SA and Kraft Foods.
The proposal set off a firestorm of protest from local politicians, Hershey employees, small business owners and others who fear the sale would threaten the century-old town of Hershey and surrounding communities that have looked to the candy maker as an economic lifeline for generations.