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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A state judge issued a temporary restraining order against the possible sale of Hershey Foods Corp., after the state attorney general expressed alarm that a sale could go through without state review.
A spokesman for the charitable trust that controls the nation's largest candy maker said it would appeal the decision.
"We're disappointed in the decision and we intend to appeal," said Rick Kelly, a spokesman for the Hershey Trust Co., which controls 31 percent of Hershey Foods Stock and 77 percent of the Hershey Foods voting stock.
The order is to last only until the judge can rule on an underlying petition by Attorney General Mike Fisher on whether to review a sale of the candy maker, should that happen, the Associated Press reported.
The judge issued the order yesterday, a day after hearing arguments in the case. The Hershey Trust announced in July that it had ordered company executives to seek bids for Hershey. Fisher sued to block any sale, contending that the loss of jobs and tax revenue could devastate the Hershey area, where about 6,200 people work for the company.
But lawyers for the trust have contended that he has gone beyond the law to stop a possible sale, and that he has failed to show that a sale would damage the area's economy.
"I am pleased the judge has stopped the sale to give us a chance to raise these issues," Fisher said in a statement. "We need to step back and take a hard look at how a sale of Hershey Foods would affect the Hershey community. There is no reason for the trust and its board to rush out and sell this company without allowing me to represent the public's interest and allowing the court to determine how a sale could hurt this community."
Fisher has said he was alarmed at the pace that the company appeared to be seeking a sale, and wanted to give the judge time to rule on his petition seeking a review of a possible sale of the candy maker. Before then, he hopes lawmakers will have had time to consider a change to the charitable trusts law that he is drafting.