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Hershey Quickly Names New CEO

A day after Richard Lenny said he was leaving, the chocolate maker named David West his successor.
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A day after announcing CEO Richard Lenny's plans to retire at year end,

Hershey

(HSY) - Get Report

named his replacement Tuesday.

David West, the chocolate maker's current COO, immediately will take over as president and will take the CEO reigns on Dec. 1. Lenny will stay on as chairman of the board through the end of the year.

The decision was announced after a regularly scheduled board meeting, at which Director Robert Campbell, a former chairman and CEO of

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

, was named Lenny's successor as chairman, effective Jan. 1.

"Dave is a very strong leader with an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of Hershey's business," Campbell said in a company statement. "He has earned the respect of the financial community, Hershey's customers, the company's employees and the board of directors. Dave will work with the management team to ensure the Company continues to execute on its value-enhancing strategy and delivers exceptional shareholder value through core brand growth and disciplined global expansion."

Lenny also praised the choice.

"He is perfectly suited to take the company to the next level and maintain our commitment to delivering superior shareholder value over the long-term," he said in the company statement. "I look forward to working with Dave to ensure a smooth transition."

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Hershey shares fell $1.63, or 3.4%, to $45.78 Tuesday.

When Hershey

announced Lenny's plans to retire Monday,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that the CEO had clashed with the trust that controls the company. Lenny did not respond to the paper's interview requests and did not address the speculation in company statements both Monday and Tuesday.

The change comes at a time of potential consolidation in the candy business.

Cadbury Schweppes

(CSG)

has been

rumored to be a merger partner as it looks to shed its drinks business to focus on candy.

West, 43, joined Hershey in 2001 as a vice president of business planning and development. He was named senior vice president and CFO in 2005. Prior to Hershey, he spent 14 years at

Nabisco

in a variety of roles.