Milner Milling acquiring Cereal Food Processors

by Josh Sosland
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CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — Milner Milling Co. today announced an agreement under which Milner and its partner milling company Pendleton Flour Mills will acquire Cereal Food Processors, Inc., Mission Woods, Kas.

Terms of the transaction, which will bring together some of the nation’s most prominent independent flour milling companies, were not disclosed. Milner said a new name for the combined business would be announced at a later time.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close this spring. It would nearly triple the combined size of Milner/PFM. Cereal Food Processors is the fourth largest flour milling company in the United States, with daily milling capacity of 103,400 cwts. The capacities of Milner (34,800 cwts) and Pendleton (24,800) together total 59,600 cwts. Once the transaction is completed, the combined company would have daily milling capacity of 164,000 cwts, with flour mills in the states of Alabama, California, Georgia (2), Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas (3), Montana (2), Ohio, Oregon (2) and Utah (2).

Based in Chattanooga, Milner Milling is a privately owned milling business with flour mill locations in Barnesville, Ga. (actually situated between Barnesville and Milner, Ga.); Rome, Ga.; and Birmingham, Ala. Milner also is a 50% managing owner of Pendleton Flour Mills L.L.C., which owns flour mills in Portland, Ore.; Honolulu; and Blackfoot, Idaho. Kerr-Pacific Corp., Portland, is the other partner in Pendleton.

Peter Frederick is president and Charles B. Stout is chief executive officer of both companies.

Cereal Foods Processors was established in 1972 by Fred L. Merrill with the acquisition of a single flour mill in Cleveland from International Multifoods Corp. Over the next 42 years, C.F.P. grew to become the largest independent flour milling company in the United States. Mr. Merrill retired in 2012. The company operates 10 flour mills in the United States.

The Milner/Pendleton/Cereal transaction has echoes of another, much larger one, announced almost exactly one year ago that also looks to bring three milling companies together. In March 2013 ConAgra Foods, Inc. and Horizon Milling L.L.C. announced plans to combine the milling assets of ConAgra and Horizon (itself a joint venture of Cargill and CHS, Inc.) to create the nation’s largest flour milling company. Later renamed Ardent Mills, the proposed company’s creation has since run into regulatory hurdles that the companies say will necessitate the divestiture of at least 4 of their 44 flour mills. Even after the divestiture, Ardent, with 513,6000 cwts of capacity, will be more than three times larger than Milner/Pendleton/Cereal Food, which will be the nation’s third largest flour milling company.
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