Yesterday's hearing by a Pennsylvania court of Hershey Trust's appeal against the injunction blocking the sale of the Hershey confectionery company was adjourned indefinitely, effectively preventing the company from being sold for the time being.
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, a panel of seven judges, gave no indication of when they would be prepared to make a decision on the temporary injunction, granted last week to the State's Attorney General Mike Fisher following concerns about the social and economic implications of the Hershey sale.
The Trust had argued that the injunction was preventing it from carrying out its main business - running the Milton Hershey School for deprived children - and that it needed to diversify its assets in order to ensure continued support for the school. At present, the Trust feels it has all its eggs in one basket - Hershey Foods accounts for 56 per cent of its investments - and that selling its stake would be the most sensible option.
Nestle, Cadbury and Kraft are among the leading contenders thought to be interested in buying Hershey, and while no company has as yet confirmed its interest in the business, the injunction and hail of criticism surrounding the sale is unlikely to do much to attract other potential buyers - a fact highlighted by the Trust's lawyers in the appeal.
As if the injunction was not bad enough, the judge who granted it has now added his personal voice to those criticising the Trust's decision to sell Hershey. Echoing Fisher's words, Warren Morgan said the disposal of the largest US confectionery maker would inevitably lead to job losses and cause irreparable harm to the community, according to press reports. Morgan is still considering whether to grant another request from Fisher which would oblige the Trust to gain approval from the courts before selling its stake.