Update 3:25pm: Adds DOJ comment.
A judge has denied the Dept. of Justice’s request to block U.S. Sugar Corp.’s planned acquisition of Imperial Sugar Co.
The decision was filed under seal, according to a Reuters report. Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled on the deal.
The DOJ sued to block U.S. Sugar’s purchase of Imperial Sugar in late November, claiming that the acquisition would eliminate a “significant refined sugar producer” in the Southeastern United States.
U.S. Sugar, which is based in Florida, is the world’s largest vertically-integrated cane sugar milling and refining operation, according to the DOJ statement. Imperial Sugar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Louis Dreyfus Company LLC.
U.S. Sugar agreed to purchase Imperial Sugar in March of last year in a $315 million deal.
U.S. Sugar commented on the decision in an email to Seeking Alpha.
“The people of U.S. Sugar are pleased that today’s court ruling will allow our acquisition of Imperial Sugar to proceed as planned: enabling us to increase our sugar production, enhance the local Georgia economy and benefit our employees and customers,” U.S. Sugar said in the statement.
“We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has rejected the government’s request to prevent US Sugar’s acquisition of the Imperial Sugar business,” Louis Dreyfus said in a separate statement. “We firmly believe that the transaction will benefit the customers of both parties and US farmers.”
The DOJ is reviewing the court decision and will make next steps soon, DOJ antitrust head Jonathan Kanter said in a statement emailed to Seeking Alpha.
“We are disappointed in the court’s decision not to block this merger, which would combine the world’s largest sugar cane refiner with one of its primary competitors in the Southeastern United States and increase reliance on foreign imports,” Kanter said in the statement. “Further consolidation in the market for this important kitchen staple will have real-world consequences for millions of Americans.”
M&A investors have been monitoring the case, especially as the DOJ, under Kanter, has pledged to be more vigilant about antitrust matters. This week investors have been focused on whether Kanter and the DOJ plan to appeal the loss in the Change Healthcare (CHNG) case.
Kanter said on Tuesday that said he disagrees with decision and was evaluating next steps.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are reviewing the opinion closely to evaluate next steps,” Kanter said in a statement.