Senate hopeful Brock's fortune climbs as stock in family business surges

August 31, 1994|By Nelson Schwartz | Nelson Schwartz,Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON -- In the past two days, Republican Senate hopeful Bill Brock has seen the value of his personal fortune grow by more than $800,000, as stock in his family's candy company soared on talk of a possible merger.

For Mr. Brock, already a millionaire, the increase in the value of his investments comes at a time when his family wealth is under political attack. Montgomery County developer Ruthann Aron, a rival candidate in the Sept. 13 Republican primary, has aired television advertisements calling Mr. Brock a "millionaire heir" and pointing out that Ms. Aron, although also a millionaire, has "worked for every dime she has."

For now, all of Mr. Brock's stock market gains are on paper and could vanish as easily as they appeared. Shares of Brock Candy retreated slightly yesterday, cutting Mr. Brock's paper profit by several hundred thousand dollars.

But the company is the object of takeover speculation, which tends to boost the value of its stock over the long term. Since Friday, the company's shares have risen from $9.75 to $12.50 a share and have traded as high as $13.75.

Mr. Brock, whose grandfather founded the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based business, owns about 300,000 shares, or less than 5 percent of the stock in the company, which is run by his brother, Pat Brock. The surge in Brock Candy's stock began after the company announced it had begun talks with a potential suitor about a possible sale or merger.

A buyout of the company could mean a gain of several million dollars for Mr. Brock.

One financial analyst who tracks Brock Candy said that even if the current talks do not pan out, "It puts the company in play. It might make a few people take a look at Brock who wouldn't have thought about buying the company otherwise."

Mr. Brock's press secretary, Erin O'Brien, declined to comment on the stock's run-up and said Mr. Brock has nothing to do with the company's management. "Bill chose not to go into the family business," she said. "He chose public service, and he has committed his life to it."

Like other wealthy candidates, Mr. Brock is taking advantage of a Supreme Court decision that allows a candidate to make unlimited contributions to his own campaign. As of July 1, according to federal election reports, Mr. Brock had lent his campaign $390,000, while raising $542,831 in contributions from others.

Mr. Brock earned $2.92 million last year, according to his 1993 tax return, which he made public in May. The bulk of that money came from the sale of 229,412 shares in the candy company's stock, which Mr. Brock was required to sell when the business went public in March 1993. In 1992, Mr. Brock's income totaled $720,168.

Last year, Mr. Brock also donated $214,802 worth of shares in Brock Candy to his alma mater, Washington and Lee University, along with $61,235 in stock to St. John's College of Annapolis.

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