Cargill, CHS Joint Venture Delayed By Regulatory Review

Cargill, CHS Joint Venture Delayed By Regulatory Review

ConAgra Foods, one of the companies involved in the large-scale merger, cited an “ongoing regulatory review process and discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice” as reasons for the delay.

A massive merger involving two Minnesota companies has been delayed, due in part to an ongoing antitrust review.

Wayzata-based Cargill, Inc., and Inver Grove Heights-based CHS, Inc., joined forces with Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra Foods, Inc., in March to announce plans for combining their North American flour-milling businesses into a new multibillion-dollar joint venture called Ardent Mills.

When announcing the merger plans, the companies said the combination was expected to close in late 2013, pending regulatory clearance and various closing conditions. But news surfaced in July that the deal had drawn the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, which had concerns that the venture could stifle competition.

Now, the expected closing date has been postponed. In a Monday regulatory filing, ConAgra Foods said that it now expects the transaction to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

ConAgra Foods said that it “has revised the timeline due to various reasons, including the ongoing regulatory review process and discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Cargill and CHS previously combined their flour operations into a business called Horizon Milling. The merger of Horizon Milling with ConAgra Foods’ flour operations to create Ardent Mills would reportedly create the largest U.S. flour producer.

Despite the fact that Cargill and CHS call Minnesota home, Ardent Mills is expected to be headquartered in Denver. The companies have said, however, that the joint venture will operate satellite offices in Minneapolis and Omaha.