Hershey Trust Company, the charitable trust which controls chocolate maker Hershey Co, publicized the sale of 4.5 million shares of The Hershey Company common stock, with 3 million shares going to Morgan Stanley and 1.5 million shares being sold to The Hershey Company.
The Hershey Company, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in North America, said in a separate statement that it will buy the 1.5 million shares from the trust for $106 per share, or about $159 million.
Hershey Trust Company is a trustee of the Milton Hershey School, which under Milton and Catherine Hershey’s 1909 Deed of Trust funds the Milton Hershey School. Eric Henry, CEO of Hershey Trust Company, said the good performance of the company over the years had led to a rise concentration of The Hershey Company stock in the school trust portfolio.
The sale will allow diversification of the school trust assets, while keeping its majority voting control in The Hershey Company.
“This share buyback reflects our confidence in the Hershey’s marketplace position, long-term growth potential and strong operating cash flow generation,” said Michele Buck, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hershey Company.
“Participating at this level is consistent with our capital allocation priorities and gives Hershey continued flexibility to invest in our brands and in the capabilities that give us a competitive edge at retail and with consumers. Our solid financial profile and strong operating cash flow give us many options to grow our business and create value for our stockholders.”
The school trust will continue to own 60.6 million shares of The Hershey Company B stock and 8 million common shares, providing the Trust with almost 80% of the total shareholder vote. Before the show, the common shares, although providing a slightly higher dividend of 66 cents a share versus 60 cents a share for class B stock, only gave the School Trust approximately 1% of the total shareholder vote.
Last summer, Hershey declined to a $23 billion bid from Oreo cookie owner Mondelez, as the Hershey Trust was involved in a row with its overseer that resulted in departures at the trust and Hershey’s board.
Earlier this year, The Hershey Trust added former Goldman Sachs partner James Katzman to its ranks.
The trust had also added Melissa Peeples-Fullmore, a Milton Hershey School alumnus and education professional, and Jan Loeffler Bergen, a trained social worker and CEO of nonprofit health provider Lancaster General Health as Hershey trustees.
“We are confident and firm supporters of The Hershey Company and its management team as they successfully position the company for sustainable growth and value,” said Velma Redmond, Chairman of Hershey Trust Company Board of Directors.
“The trust’s investment in The Hershey Company stock continues to be an important asset as we continue our work to carry on Milton and Catherine Hershey’s legacy to educate disadvantaged children in perpetuity.”
About The Hershey Co
The Hershey Company runs as a confectionery company in the U.S. engaged in the chocolate industry. It is known for bringing sweetness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints, and other good-tasting snacks. The firm has more than 80 brands, including Hershey’s, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Jolly Rancher, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, and Ice Breakers with a business presence around the world.
Headquartered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, The Hershey Company employs approximately 18,000 people, and is currently under the governance of CEO Michele G. Buck.
On Wednesday, Hershey’s stock gained 0.32% to close at $107.
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