Business & Finance

Hershey Foods Corp., the US's largest maker of chocolate

products and candy, would not comment on a published report that it may be put up for sale by the charitable trust that controls it. The Wall Street Journal said such a move could spawn a bidding war, pushing the ultimate purchase price into the $10 billion to $11 billion range. The 108-year-old company markets a wide range of products under its own name, plus Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Jolly Rancher candies, Milk Duds, Twizzlers licorice, Peter Paul Mounds and Almond Joy, Heath toffee bars, York peppermint patties, and others. Hershey's exports to more than 90 countries and reported $4.6 billion in sales last year.

Burger King will be sold for $2.26 billion to a consortium of US investors, its parent company announced. Diageo PLC, the British beverage giant, said the all-cash deal will not include assumption of debt. The consortium is led by venture capital specialist Texas Pacific Group and includes Boston-based Bain Capital (owner of the Domino's Pizza chain), and Goldman Sachs. With more than 11,400 outlets worldwide, Burger King is second in size in the fast-food industry only to McDonald's.

Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas and two of his sons were free on $10 million bail each, after being arrested in New York Wednesday for securities fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud. Two other former executives of the bankrupt cable operator were arrested at their Pennsylvania homes on similar charges. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also filed a civil lawsuit over what it termed "one of the most extensive financial frauds ever to take place at a public company." Adelphia is based in Coudersport, Pa.

The SEC is examining AOL Time Warner's accounting methods, company chief executive Richard Parsons confirmed. The fact-finding inquiry stems from two Washington Post reports on a series of unusual transactions at America Online, which allegedly may have inflated its revenues during last year's acquisition of Time Warner. The media and online company said the transactions were approved by its auditor, Ernst & Young, and represented less than 2 percent of AOL revenue for the period in question.

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