Judge Maryellen Noreika has denied the US Justice Department’s motion for injunction pending appeal following US Sugar’s acquisition of Imperial Sugar.
The department requested an “emergency motion” to appeal a judge’s ruling that US Sugar’s plans to buy Imperial Sugar were legal under antitrust law on Monday.
Noreika wrote in the order: “The government has not established a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits. The court held a trial, listened to witnesses and evaluated the evidence.” She stated that the government had failed to “identify a relevant product market and its proffered geographic market was unduly narrow”.
The court heard testimony from Barbara Fesco, an economist with a background working at the US Department of Agriculture. Noreika commented that Fesco had “testified credibly” and that the acquisition is “not likely to lead to higher prices but, in fact, may lower prices for US purchasers and consumers of refined sugar by creating certain efficiencies and cost savings”.
A US Sugar spokesperson commented: “The people of US Sugar remain pleased that the federal court ruled in our favour, completely rejecting the Department of Justice’s challenge to our acquisition of Imperial Sugar. The Department of Justice’s request for a stay so that it can appeal to the Third Circuit rehashes arguments made to, and rejected, by the District Court.”
They added: “We are confident that the District Court’s ruling will be upheld on appeal. We look forward to expeditiously closing this acquisition as planned, which will increase efficiencies, spur greater competition amongst the industry, decrease US reliance on foreign imported sugar and enhance the local Georgia economy – benefitting customers and consumers across the country.”
FoodBev Media has reached out to Imperial Sugar for comment.
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