Department of Justice loses third attempt to block U.S. Sugar acquisition

sugar farm field on sunset time
The Department of Justice had raised antitrust issues with the acquisition citing the federal Clayton Act.

A U.S. appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling rejecting a push by the federal government to block U.S. Sugar from acquiring Imperial Sugar Co., a company based near Savannah, Georgia.

The newest ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a Sept. 23 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika. U.S. Sugar announced a plan to purchase the company from Louis Dreyfus Co. in March 2021 and announced they were moving forward to finalize that sale following the lower court’s ruling.

The circuit court decision should allow that sale to go forward.

“The people of U.S. Sugar are pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has upheld the lower court’s decision which allowed U.S. Sugar to complete our acquisition of Imperial Sugar’s Savannah Refinery. We continue to focus our efforts on the integration of our sugar businesses,” read a statement from U.S. Sugar.

“As we have previously stated, bringing the Savannah Refinery, its sugar brands, and facilities back into American ownership is good for our employees, our local communities, our customers and our country. We look forward to bringing more high-quality, great tasting, and affordable sugar and other sustainably grown food products to American families.”

The Department of Justice had raised antitrust issues with the acquisition citing the federal Clayton Act.

“The merger at issue, in this case, involves a leading Florida-based sugar refiner’s acquisition of its major rival’s Georgia-based refinery,” DOJ attorneys wrote in a brief before the circuit court.

“As the government has established, the merger threatens precisely the harm that (a section of the Clayton Act) proscribes — substantially lessening competition in the market for the production and sale of refined sugar.”

But in an opinion written by Judge David J. Porter, the appeals court found the lower court “did not clearly err” in its findings and that its analysis was “valid.”

U.S. Sugar plans to utilize an Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, to help refine more sugar cane. The company is slated to upgrade equipment at that facility in the future.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].

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