NOBULL: Justice Department asked to block Ardent Mills formation

Justice Department asked to block Ardent Mills formation

By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post


The American Antitrust Institute and Food & Water Watch on Tuesday asked the U.S. Justice Department to block the formation of Ardent Mills, which would be the nation’s largest flour miller and be based in Colorado.

In July, ConAgra Foods, Cargill and CHS announced that the proposed new joint flour-milling company would have its headquarters in metro Denver. They said the transaction was expected to be completed by late 2013 and that Ardent was expected to be in the Denver area in 2014.

However, the merger is undergoing an antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice.

Under the joint venture, ConAgra Foods would own 44 percent, Cargill would own 44 percent, and CHS 12 percent of Ardent Mills. Ardent Mills would combine the operations of ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling — a Cargill/CHS joint venture.

Diana Moss, AAI vice president, and Patrick Woodall, research director of Food & Water Watch, said the joint venture could lower prices paid to wheat farmers and raise prices to consumers.

Becky Niiya, spokeswoman for ConAgra Foods, and Lori Fligge, spokeswoman for Cargill, issued identical statements in response to the allegations.

"We strongly believe the formation of Ardent Mills will enhance competition and customer and consumer choice. We expect to complete the transaction as planned," they said.