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U.S. Sues to Rescind Deal by Dean Foods

(January 23, 2010 - WSJ)—The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Friday seeking to undo Dean Foods Co.’s 2009 acquisition of Foremost Farms USA’s consumer-products division.

The legal challenge marks the first time the Obama administration’s antitrust team at the Justice Department, led by Christine Varney, has sued to block or undo an acquisition.

Ms. Varney, who was confirmed as antitrust chief last April, had pledged to take a close look at competition issues in the agriculture industry.

Antitrust regulators said the deal eliminated substantial competition in milk sales to schools, grocery stores and convenience stories in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Attorneys general from those three states joined the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Milwaukee.

The lawsuit not only seeks to undo the transaction but also seeks to require that Dallas-based Dean Foods, the country’s largest processor and distributor of dairy products, notify the Justice Department at least 30 days in advance before any future acquisition of a milk-processing operation.

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