Denver area selected for Ardent headquarters

by Josh Sosland
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Denver metropolitan area has been selected as the location for the headquarters of Ardent Mills, the proposed joint venture that will bring together the flour milling assets of ConAgra Mills, Cargill and CHS. The designated executives of Ardent said while no specific office location or opening date has been set, the new company is expected to establish its presence in Denver by early 2014.

First announced in March, Ardent Mills will operate as an independent joint venture of its three parent companies: ConAgra Foods, Inc., Omaha; Cargill, Wayzata, Minn.; CHS, Inver Grove Heights, Minn. Since 2002, Cargill and CHS have operated a flour milling joint venture — Horizon Milling L.L.C. The three companies own 44 flour mills, 3 bakery mix facilities and a specialty bakery, located in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The companies expect the Ardent transaction to be completed late in 2013, subject to regulatory clearances, financing and other closing conditions. The move to Denver is contingent upon final application and approval of state and local incentives.

“Selecting the Denver area as the home for Ardent Mills will allow us to offer great quality of life for employees, provide excellent service to our customers, and position the business for long-term growth,” said Daniel P. Dye, president of Horizon Milling. Mr. Dye will serve as chief executive officer of Ardent Mills when the new company is formed.

“The energy of this metropolitan area, ranked sixth on Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s list of 50 best American cities, is a great match for Ardent Mills,” he continued. “The vision of Ardent Mills is to be the trusted partner in nurturing our customers, consumers and communities through innovative and nutritious grain-based solutions — and we will be well-positioned to achieve that vision from the Denver area.”

In addition to its Denver headquarters, satellite offices in Omaha and Minneapolis will be maintained. The companies said staffing changes and relocations relating to Ardent Mills will not occur until the transaction is completed.

“We are enthusiastic about making the Denver region the home of Ardent Mills and are eager to establish the company’s roots there after the transaction is completed,” said Bill Stoufer, president of ConAgra Mills, and the designated chief operating officer and chief integration officer for Ardent. “Our intent is to help our customers innovate and grow in a dynamic marketplace, and Ardent Mills will be in a great position to do that in the Denver area.”

The move would make Colorado headquarters to the largest flour milling company in the United States. Colorado is a significant but not a major U.S. milling center. According to the Grain and Milling Annual published by Sosland Publishing Co., four flour mills with a combined 28,500 cwts of daily milling capacity operate in Colorado. The state ranks 18th in the United States as measured by flour milling capacity. Two of the four flour mills in the state, with a combined 24,000 cwts of daily capacity, are operated by ConAgra.

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado enthusiastically welcomed the business to his state.

“Ardent Mills is an excellent fit for Colorado and will bring benefits to both rural and urban areas of the state,” he said. “We want to welcome Ardent Mills to Colorado and we look forward to helping them tap into one of the nation’s top workforces and our vibrant agriculture community that includes leading agricultural research institutions.”

According to terms of the joint venture agreement, ConAgra Foods and Cargill will each own a 44% stake in Ardent Mills, with CHS owning the 12% balance. All three companies will have representatives on Ardent Mills’ board of directors.
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