USA: Heinz acquisition of Beech-Nut upheld; court rules in favor of Milnot purchase and expansion of Heinz's U.S. baby food business
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in an opinion by Judge James Robertson, today ruled that the H.J. Heinz Company's (NYSE: HNZ) proposed acquisition of Milnot Holding Corporation should be allowed to proceed under U.S. anti-trust laws. The judge denied a motion by the Federal Trade Commission for a preliminary injunction to block Heinz's acquisition of Milnot, whose largest subsidiary is Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation, maker of the popular Beech-Nut brand of prepared baby foods. Both companies called the ruling a "victory for consumers" that paves the way for a completion of the transaction, which was first announced on February 28, 2000.Heinz and Milnot stated that today's ruling affirmed their contention that Heinz's acquisition of Beech-Nut is in the best interests of American consumers, will result in improved product offerings and more innovative competition in the baby food category, and will enable the company to offer a value-priced premium baby food that combines the respective strengths of Heinz and Beech-Nut in a national brand. During the trial, many retail customers supported the transaction, maintaining that it would energize baby food sales and increase competition against Gerber.The District Court affirmed the companies' position, citing "powerful evidence in the record about the efficiencies realized by the merger, and about the enhanced prospects of the merged entity to introduce innovative products to compete with Gerber." (The full text of the opinion is available on the U.S. District Court's website,
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