The charitable trust that owns a controlling stake in Hershey Foods has promised it will not try to sell its shares in the US candy maker again without advising the courts.

Late July saw the trust announce it was seeking a buyer for its stake in a bid to diversify its US$5.4bn endowment, over half of which is in Hershey stock. The single beneficiary is the Milton Hershey School for deprived children. Following a firestorm of protest from the local community, school alumni and politicians, the trust turned its back on a lucrative offer from US gum maker Wrigley last week and called off the sale.

In a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, one of the most vociferous opponents of the sale, the trust said yesterday [Thursday] that it would seek court approval for any future sale of the company.

"The [trust] board commits to your office that the board will not agree to any sale of the... controlling interest in Hershey Foods without the approval of the Dauphin County Orphans' Court, following advance notice to the Office of Attorney General," trust board chairman A. John Gabig wrote.

Still keen to secure its endowment, the trustees requested Fisher's advice for how to diversify its assets now that a sale of the company is out of the question. "We look forward to your ideas and support for our diversification efforts," Gabig said.