Hershey to buy out Indian joint venture partner

Fri Sep 7, 2012 11:35am EDT

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(Reuters) - Hershey Co (HSY.N) plans to buy the remaining 49 percent in its Indian joint venture that it does not own, giving it full control of a chocolate business in one of the world's biggest markets.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But it ends months of press speculation that Godrej Industries Ltd (GODI.NS), Hershey's partner since 2007, wanted out of the Godrej Hershey venture, which lost money in 2011 with sales of $80 million.

Hershey said on Friday that it will assume about $47.6 million in debt, and will own the Maha Lacto and Nutrine candy brands and the Jumpin and Sofit beverage brands, as well as the related factories.

Last month, the board of directors of Godrej -- a diversified company with interests in chemicals, animal feed and processed food and beverages -- approved a proposal to explore possibilities for its stake in the joint venture, including its sale.

"Godrej Hershey Limited (GHL) is potentially sick and the shareholders of GHL may look at redressing the issue," the board said in a statement in August.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter, after which the wholly-owned subsidiary will be called Hershey India.

Hershey said the deal does not change its financial outlook.

Hershey shares were down 92 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $72.24 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bernard Orr)

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