US agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland has announced that it has reached a settlement in a federal antitrust civil suit regarding high fructose corn syrup.

Under the terms of the settlement, ADM agreed to pay US$400m to the plaintiff class, which is comprised of customers who purchased high fructose corn syrup in the early 1990s.

ADM said the settlement is subject to court approval, but the parties involved have agreed that all aspects of this dispute with ADM have been fully and satisfactorily resolved.

The settlement is the result of a long-running lawsuit filed by several food and beverage companies, alleging that ADM teamed up with other manufacturers to fix prices of the sugar substitute in the early 1990s, reported Reuters.

This case, originally dismissed by the US District Court and later reinstated by the US District Court of Appeals, was scheduled for a jury trial commencing on 7 September 2004. ADM said the plaintiff class had alleged damages of $1.6bn, which would be trebled in the event of a finding of liability.

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“We are pleased to have reached a resolution with our customers in the food and beverage industries,” said G. Allen Andreas, chairman and chief executive of Archer Daniels Midland. “In light of the potential exposure inherent in litigation, the board of directors concluded that it was in the best interests of the company to dispose of this matter.”