• The move comes less than two weeks after failed Mondelez bid
  • Trust controls about 80 percent of voting stock in Hershey Co.

Joan Steel has resigned from the board of the Hershey Trust Co., the $12 billion charity that controls about 80 percent of the voting shares in the Hershey chocolate company, which Mondelez International Inc. tried to acquire last month.

Steel, a member of the board since 2012, quit over the weekend and gave no reason for leaving, according to Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for the Hershey Trust. The move comes less than two weeks after Hershey Co. rejected the takeover bid from snack giant Mondelez, the maker of Oreos.

The trust, which has faced allegations of lavish spending by board members in recent years, controls the fate of the maker of Hershey Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups through its voting shares. Established in the early 1900s by Milton Hershey, the organization runs a school for low-income students and oversees the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts company.

Hershey announced on June 30 that it had turned down Mondelez’s $23 billion bid. The chocolate maker, struggling with an ill-fated expansion in China and sluggish U.S. sales, has long been seen as a takeover target -- with the trust serving as the main obstacle to a potential deal.

Steel’s resignation, which was reported earlier by Reuters, caused a spike in Hershey’s shares. The stock climbed as much as 1.7 percent to $112.63 in New York on Monday. It previously gained 24 percent through the end of last week, including a 17 percent surge on the day the Mondelez bid was reported.

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