Judge rejects judicial offer to end sugar merger

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WASHINGTON — A federal judge has rejected the Justice Department’s offer to prevent a major US sugar manufacturer from taking over its rival, paving the way for the takeover.

The ruling, handed down Friday by a federal judge in Wilmington, Delaware, comes months after the Justice Department filed suit to try to stop the deal between US Sugar and Imperial Sugar Company, one of the largest sugar refineries in the country. The government had argued that allowing the acquisition would be harmful to consumers and anti-competitive.

US Sugar has argued that the acquisition will increase production and distribution of refined sugar and provide more secure supplies.

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The ruling was a blow to the Department of Justice as it continues to aggressively enforce federal antitrust laws that officials say are aimed at ensuring a fair and competitive market. The Justice Department could appeal the decision and said it was reviewing the judge’s ruling.

“We are disappointed with the court’s decision not to block this merger, which would combine the world’s largest sugar cane refinery with one of its main competitors in the southeastern United States and increase its dependence on foreign imports,” Assistant said. Attorney General Jonathan Kanter. “Further consolidation in the market for this important kitchen staple will have real implications for millions of Americans.”

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US Sugar said in a statement it was “pleased that today’s court ruling will allow our acquisition of Imperial Sugar to proceed as planned, allowing us to increase our sugar production, improve Georgia’s local economy and benefit our employees and customers.” good can come.”

The Justice Department has said that US Sugar, which operates a major refinery in Florida, sells all of its sugar through a marketing cooperative known as the United Sugars Corporation. Imperial Sugar operates a refinery in Savannah, Georgia, and a sugar transfer and liquidation facility in Ludlow, Kentucky.

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The companies announced the acquisition in March and said it would return Imperial Sugar to wholly-owned US ownership. Imperial Sugar is a subsidiary of Louis Dreyfus Company, headquartered in the Netherlands. The Justice Department says Imperial Sugar’s 2020 revenue was more than $700 million.

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