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    Suiza Completes Acquisition of Dean Foods

    Companies agree to divest 11 dairy plants to promote competition.


    WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Justice Department yesterday approved plans by the largest U.S. dairy, Suiza Foods Corp., to acquire rival Dean Foods Co. after the companies agreed to sell 11 of their U.S. dairy plants.

    The department's antitrust division said 11 of the companies' dairy plants will be sold to a newly formed partnership called Dairy Holdings LP, which is half-owned by the Dairy Farmers of America Inc. farmer cooperative.

    Suiza agreed to buy Dean, its largest U.S. competitor, in April, creating a company with about $10 billion in annual revenue.

    Dallas-based Suiza owns and operates 67 dairy processing plants in 29 states and had net sales of about $5.76 billion, the department said. Dean, based in Franklin Park, Illinois, owns and operates 43 dairy processing plants in 19 states, with net sales of about $4.4 billion.

    The dairy plants to be divested are located in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia and Utah. As originally proposed, the Justice Department said, the merger would have hurt competition in markets for milk sold through retail outlets in those areas.

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