UPDATE 2-Cargill expects flour merger with ConAgra to be finalized in 6-8 weeks

Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:37pm EDT
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* Mill merger was announced more than a year ago

* Pig mortality abating in Cargill herd

* Proper use of cattle feed additive questioned (Adds comments on cattle additive Zilmax, Canada grain backlog)

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 15 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness Cargill Inc expects the merger of its flour mill operations with those of ConAgra Foods Inc to be finalized in six to eight weeks after it clears a longstanding regulatory hurdle, Cargill Executive Chairman Greg Page said on Tuesday.

The combined entity, to be called Ardent Mills, would join ConAgra's milling operations with Horizon Milling LLC, which is a joint venture of privately held Cargill and U.S. farm cooperative CHS Inc. The deal was announced in March 2013 and was initially expected to be finalized late last year.

But the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division has been investigating the merger, which would result in Ardent Mills controlling about a third of U.S. flour mill capacity.

"We hope everything will be resolved in the next six to eight weeks," Page told reporters on the sidelines of the Canadian Global Crops Symposium in Winnipeg. "It took longer than we would have hoped, and I'm sure that our employees would have hoped, but there's been continuous attention given to it by the Justice Department.

"I think we're in the very final chapter of having it resolved positively."   Continued...