Hershey Trust Company publicly explains decision to sell stock

HERSHEY, PA: Hershey Trust Company's surprise decision to sell its stock in Hershey Foods has made the organization front-page news.

HERSHEY, PA: Hershey Trust Company's surprise decision to sell its stock in Hershey Foods has made the organization front-page news.

This week, six former members of the trust's managing board and a retired CEO of Hershey Foods came out publicly to denounce the sale. The $5.4 billion trust has 52% of its assets in Hershey Foods. The trust has an internal PR team, and it now retains Robinson Kelly in Harrisburg, PA, to deal with this issue. Rick Kelly and Ken Montgomery just launched the firm in July. The Wall Street Journal broke the story of the trust's decision over a week ago. "The key objectives have been to help people understand why the trust is doing what it's doing, explained Kelly. "The trust needs to diversify its portfolio in order to protect the long-term beneficiary of the trust, which is the Milton Hershey School." The state Attorney General has already reached an agreement with the trust over possible conflicts of interest raised by the school's alumni association. Kelly and Trust officials held a lengthy editorial board meeting with the Harrisburg Patriot News, and have been cooperating with media outlets. But Kelly said that now there is nothing more to say until a final decision is made. The story, connected as it is with the iconic Hershey brand, has been an emotional one, tied to community economic issues. "This has been very much a company town, Kelly said. "When you fold in some opposition and controversy, it's a heck of a story."

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