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John S. Forrester
April 21, 2021
2 Min Read
Representative imageImage courtesy of Pixabay
Stone Canyon Industrial Holding company SCIH Salt Holdings Inc. (SCIH) is one step closer to acquiring Morton Salt Inc. from German chemicals firm K+S Aktiengesellschaft after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the sale this week if certain conditions are met to satisfy antitrust concerns.
A civil antitrust lawsuit was filed by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division on Monday to block the transaction. The same day, the regulator filed a proposed settlement requiring US Salt to sell its entire evaporated salt business, US Salt, for the deal to proceed. The Justice Department said the measure is intended to increase competition in the evaporated salt market, which includes pharmaceutical-grade salt, round-can table salt, and bulk evaporated salt.
“Americans use and depend on evaporated salt products every day for nutritional, medical, and cleaning purposes,” said Acting Asst. Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division in a release. “Without the divestiture, this merger would likely have led to higher prices and lower quality for consumers throughout the United States. Today’s settlement will ensure that consumers, patients, and businesses continue to benefit from competition for these critical products.”
Morton and US Salt are two of three evaporated salt manufacturers operating in the United States, the complaint said. Morton is the largest branded supplier of round-can table salt to the domestic market and US Salt is the biggest supplier of private-label round-can table salt in the country. The two companies are the sole producers of pharmaceutical-grade salt in the US and Canada. Additionally, US Salt and Morton are two of only three major suppliers that produce and distribute bulk evaporated salt in the northeastern US.
“To eliminate the potential for competitive harm threatened by this acquisition, Stone Canyon and SCIH have agreed to divest their US Salt subsidiary, including their refinery in Watkins Glen, NY, as well as all other assets used in the production of its evaporated salt products,” the DOJ release said.
K+S said in a statement that it “no longer anticipates any antitrust hurdles” in the $3 billion sale. The company expects the deal to close around Apr. 30, 2021.
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