Cargill, Continental close U.S. chicken deal

FILE PHOTO: A Cargill logo is pictured on the Provimi Kliba and Protector animal nutrition factory in Lucens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Cargill and Continental Grain Co said on Friday that they had closed their deal to buy Sanderson Farms Inc, the third largest chicken producer, in a deal worth some $4.53 billion.

Under the deal, which was announced last August, Sanderson is being combined with Continental Grain subsidiary Wayne Farms. Sanderson will cease trading on Friday.

Any outstanding issues with the Justice Department were resolved prior to close, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deal had raised concerns on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers asked for the Justice Department to take a hard look at it because of fear of pushing up prices.

The Justice Department, which had been investigating the deal for antitrust concerns, declined comment.

Chicken wings and breasts have climbed 38% and 24% since February year-over-year, respectively, according to research from Wells Fargo.

The Biden administration, concerned about price hikes in general and especially in the meat sector, announced in January that it would spend $1 billion and issue new rules as a way to address a lack of “meaningful competition” in meat processing.

(Reporting by Diane BartzEditing by Marguerita Choy and Diane Craft)