Horizon, ConAgra milling ventures to merge

03/06/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:15 AM

Horizon Milling, which has two flour mills and a sales office in the Wichita area and is the nation’s No. 1 grain miller, is merging with ConAgra Mills to form a giant new milling venture.

The two companies announced the formation of the new company, Ardent Mills, on Tuesday. It will have 44 flour mills, three bakery mix facilities and a specialty bakery. It will have facilities in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

Horizon Milling, based in the Minneapolis area, is itself a joint venture of Cargill and CHS. Horizon Milling has 204 employees at a mill and sales office at 715 E. 13th St. in Wichita. It also operates a mill at 300 E. Broadway in Newton and a sales office in Kansas City, Kan.

There are no plans at this time to close any of the facilities, according to the companies. Decisions about staffing and other changes will be made by the end of the year, when the merger becomes final, said Lisa Clemons, a spokeswoman for Cargill. Even where the Ardent Mills headquarters will be hasn’t been decided yet.

“It’s so early on that,” she said. “All of that is to come.”

Cargill and ConAgra will each own 44 percent of Ardent Mills, while CHS will get 12 percent. The companies expect to receive cash distributions from Ardent Mills at closing. Total proceeds are estimated to be between $800 million and $1 billion, according to the companies.

Horizon Milling President Dan Dye will be CEO of Ardent Mills, while ConAgra President Bill Stoufer will be chief operating officer and chief integration officer.

Horizon Milling is the largest U.S. milling company as measured by production capacity, followed by ADM Milling and ConAgra Mills, according to the 2013 Grain & Milling Annual, compiled by Sosland Publishing Co. Horizon has a daily capacity of 290,500 hundredweight, compared with 281,100 hundredweight for ADM Milling and 255,100 hundredweight for ConAgra Mills, the report said.

Horizon Milling had sales of approximately $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, while ConAgra Mills had about $1.8 billion in sales.

The deal is subject to regulatory clearances. The companies said they will cooperate if the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice has questions.

“It’s not about getting bigger, it’s about serving customers better,” Clemens said. She added that “there are about 25 major milling companies, so it’s a very competitive business.”

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