HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Hershey Co. is assembling a solo bid to acquire British candy maker Cadbury PLC without the help of Italian candy maker Ferrero International, a person familiar with Hershey's plans told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The company has been working on parallel bids for Cadbury - one with Ferrero and one on its own. A potential bid is still being crafted, the person said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The person told AP that Hershey has hoped to avoid a bidding war by waiting until Cadbury's shareholders decide on a competing US$16.5-billion bid by Kraft Foods Inc.

Kraft has until Feb. 2 to win support from a majority of shareholders. Its deadline to increase its bid is Jan. 19.

A spokesman for the maker of Hershey's Kisses and Reese's said that, as a matter of policy, the company does not comment on merger and acquisition issues.

An Italian business daily reported Wednesday that Ferrero International SA is no longer interested in bidding for Cadbury. The paper, il Sole 24 Ore, cited unidentified sources close to the family-run Italian firm.

Ferrero had no comment.

Any bid for Cadbury would involve bringing jobs and assets to Hershey and leave voting control of the company in the hands of the charitable trust set up by its late founder Milton S. Hershey, the person said.

On Wednesday, Kraft declined to comment on a potential bid from Hershey but maintained that it sees itself as the best partner for Cadbury.

In November, Hershey and Ferrero told the London Stock Exchange that they were considering a possible offer for Cadbury, but cautioned that there was no assurance that any bid would happen.