Judge rules in favor of U.S. Sugar’s purchase of Imperial, dismisses antitrust concerns

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Granulated white sugar is seen in this illustration. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

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WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge ruled on Friday in favor of U.S. Sugar Corp’s plan to buy rival Imperial Sugar Co, rejecting a Justice Department argument that the proposed deal would drive up the price of sugar for households as well as for food and soda manufacturers.

The Justice Department said in a lawsuit filed last November that the $315 million deal would give US Sugar, which owns and is a member of a cooperative with three other companies, and American Sugar Refining, which sells under the Domino brand, approximately 75% of refined sugar sales. in the southeastern United States. Read more

US Sugar said in a statement that it was “satisfied” with the decision. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He can appeal the loss.

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Judge Maryellen Noreika of the U.S. District Court in Delaware released the opinion under seal and said a redacted version would be available.

The government, which called US Sugar the “world’s largest vertically integrated cane sugar crushing and refining plant,” argued the deal would drive up sugar prices in the southeastern United States. United, saying the two companies often compete for contracts with companies that make beverages, snacks and other prepared foods.

The companies argued that the sugar was easy to transport, so restricting the market to the southeast was a mistake. They also argued that Imperial is a high-priced competitor that buys raw sugar to refine it and does not compete to bring prices down.

They also argued that the US Department of Agriculture monitors sugar prices and can increase imports if necessary to meet price increases.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Diane Bartz

Thomson Reuters

Focused on US antitrust as well as corporate regulation and law, with experience covering the war in Bosnia, elections in Mexico and Nicaragua, as well as stories from Brazil, Chile, Cuba, from El Salvador, Nigeria and Peru.

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