A judge Friday rejected an attempt by federal antitrust officials to block U.S. Sugar Corp. from purchasing another large player in the sugar industry.
U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled against the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a lawsuit last year in Delaware to try to prevent the combination of Clewiston-based U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar Co.
Noreika did not immediately make public her reasoning, issuing it under seal to protect “third-party confidential information.”
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She gave the parties until Thursday to propose a redacted version of the decision. Noreika, however, wrote in a one-paragraph judgment that “United States Sugar Corporation’s acquisition of Imperial Sugar Company will not violate” an antitrust law known as the Clayton Act. U.S. Sugar announced in March 2021 that it had reached an agreement to purchase Imperial Sugar, which operates a sugar refinery in Savannah, Ga., from Louis Dreyfus Co.
The announcement said U.S. Sugar would increase production capacity at Imperial’s Georgia plant.
But the Justice Department’s lawsuit alleged that the merger of the competitors would “result in a highly concentrated market and lead to higher prices for a product that is vital to our country’s food supply.”