Report: Hershey Gets $11.5 Billion Bid from Nestle

Swiss food giant Nestle reportedly is offering $11.5 billion to purchase Hershey Foods ( HSY).

Nestle made a preliminary bid of $82 to $85 a share for the nation's No. 1 candy company after touring the company's factories and reviewing its finances, according to USA Today. The bid would represent a sweet premium on Hershey's Friday closing price of $75.03, and the shares were trading up 3.4% to $77.60 in premarket trading on Instinet.

The trust that controls 77% of Hershey's shares put the company up for sale a few weeks ago, and is likely to attract additional offers from Philip Morris' ( MO) subsidiary Kraft Foods and Britain's Cadbury Schweppes before a final decision is made.

The sale has stirred up a political controversy in Hershey, Pa., as the company's employees and small business owners are concerned that new ownership could translate into relocation of the company, extensive job cuts, and the subsequent demise of the city's identity. Pennsylvania Attorney General candidate Mike Fisher petitioned a state court judge to block the sale on Friday and called for a hearing on the issue within the next five days.

Hershey would qualify as Nestle's biggest acquisition to date, exceeding its $10 billion purchase of pet food manufacturer Ralston-Purina.

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