Hershey has refused to be drawn on speculation it is one of the bidders looking to acquire US confectioner Russell Stover Candies.

According to a report carried by the Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter” Hershey, Yildiz Holding and private equity firms have expressed an interest in the confectionery firm.

In email correspondence with just-food, a spokesperson for Hershey said: “Unfortunately, I can’t provide answers to your questions. As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on rumors or speculation”.

Russell Stover is best known for its boxed chocolate brands Russell Stover, Whitman’s and Pangburn’s. According to its website every 2.5 seconds, a Whitman’s Sampler box of chocolates is sold. 

The firm has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for it and several bidders are reported to have submitted first round offers in excess of US$1bn.

Goldman Sachs and Yildiz Holding did not respond to requests for comment.