TreeHouse announced in May it was selling its ready-to-eat cereal business to Post for an undisclosed amount.
A few days after the news broke, the FTC waived the customary waiting period – typically 30 days according to the country’s 1976 antitrust law. TreeHouse expected the deal to close this month.
This week, however, the FTC said it needed to review the transaction in more detail, thus delaying the deal’s potential close until August or later. The agency told BakeryandSnacks it could not comment on proposed mergers unless it publishes a formal complaint, which it has not done at this time.
According to the FTC, if regulators sense an anti-competitive problem with a proposed deal, they can request further information from the companies involved. This decision can extend the waiting period or even incur an injunction to prevent the transaction.
The ‘vast majority’ of deals, which the Department of Justice also reviews, proceed after initial review only.
Following a second request for information, the FTC has another 30 days to review a proposal and decide upon one of three outcomes: close the investigation and allow the deal to proceed; enter into a settlement with the companies involved; or block the deal through court or an internal process.
Though disappointed by the delay, TreeHouse and Post said they remain committed to the deal, emphasizing it will ‘generate substantial cost savings and other efficiencies that would benefit both retailers and consumers by creating stronger competition in the nearly $9bn RTE cereal category.’
They also mentioned the importance of ‘a smooth transition’ for employees, customers and consumers.
Shedding snacks and cereal
TreeHouse embarked on a slimdown in May, announcing it would close its Minneapolis snacks facility. As part of an ongoing review of its premium nuts and trail mix business, the decision would ‘streamline operations for lower volume levels.’
The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company estimated the cost to close the factory would be $13m.
Earlier this month, TreeHouse announced that it would sell its snack division – projected to hit $670m in sales this year – to Atlas Holdings for $90m.
TreeHouse declined to comment further on the inquiry and Post did not return our request for comment.