CLEWISTON, FL — U.S. Sugar announced March 24 that it has reached an agreement with Louis Dreyfus Company to acquire the business and assets of Imperial Sugar Company, a port refiner with operations in Georgia and Kentucky. The acquisition returns Imperial Sugar to all-American ownership.
“We are excited to combine our operations with Imperial Sugar’s port refinery, consumer brands, and sugar processing capabilities,” said Robert H. Buker, Jr., President and CEO of U.S. Sugar. “Together, U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar will provide our customers with a more dependable, secure supply of sugar.”
“Imperial Sugar has a strong heritage as a family-owned business and could not be more proud to become part of the U.S. Sugar family,” said Mike Gorrell, CEO of Imperial Sugar. “This move will increase production and reduce costs at Imperial Sugar’s refinery, generating significant efficiencies that ultimately will benefit our customers.”
Imperial Sugar currently operates a refinery at Port Wentworth in Savannah, GA and a sugar transfer and liquification facility in Ludlow, KY. The company primarily sources its raw sugar from Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Imperial Sugar’s various facilities, consumer brands and raw/refined sugar inventories will be included in the purchase.
“U.S. Sugar has a world-class sugar business focused solely in America, including a historic relationship with the Savannah refinery,” said Adrian Isman, Head of the North American Region at Louis Dreyfus Company. “Imperial Sugar’s port refining capabilities will be an excellent addition for the company, while enabling LDC to concentrate more fully on its global sugar merchandizing business.”
“Two storied American companies with a long history in the domestic sugar business – each with its own unique strengths – now will become a truly great American sugar company that will better serve our people, our customers, and our communities,” said Buker.
Prior to building its Clewiston refinery in 1998, U.S. Sugar for decades sold and shipped its raw sugar to the Savannah refinery it is now acquiring. The company sustainably farms more than 200,000 acres of sugarcane in South Florida and also owns and operates a short-line railroad, the South Central Florida Express, which facilitates shipping sugar products.
Acquisition to expand sugar production, increase sugar supply security, create logistics and shipping synergies, and improve competition
- Expand Sugar Production and Reduce Costs: U.S. Sugar will be investing in Imperial’s refinery to expand production and reduce manufacturing costs. Adding Imperial’s facility will provide U.S. Sugar and its local Florida farmers with enough refining capacity to utilize all the sugarcane they farm. Importantly, no facility closings or major employment impacts are anticipated as a result of this acquisition.
- Increase Domestic Sugar Supply Security: Increased production capacity and access to Imperial’s Savannah port refinery will supplement U.S. Sugar’s marketing cooperative’s sugar supply if supplies of domestic beet and cane crops are limited from freezes or hurricanes. This will allow U.S. Sugar to better honor customers’ contracts and requirements.
- Create Logistics and Shipping Synergies: Adding Imperial Sugar’s operations to U.S. Sugar’s marketing cooperative will create substantial distribution synergies and cost savings that will benefit customers.
- Improve Competition: The new combined company will be a better competitor, offering customers a full suite of sugar products (which U.S. Sugar does not supply today) and expanding distribution capabilities throughout the country. U.S. Sugar will continue to compete across the U.S. with both domestic and imported sugar refiners, along with independent resellers and distributors.
The transaction, expected to close in 2021, is subject to review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. Wells Fargo Securities, LLC is serving as the exclusive financial advisor to U.S. Sugar. The transaction will be financed through committed debt financing provided by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and PGIM Agricultural Finance.
U.S. Sugar is a recognized leader in farming and food production, owned primarily by its employees and charities set up by its founder, Charles Stewart Mott. The Company farms more than 200,000 acres of the most productive farmland in the United States. Its consolidated, automated milling and refining facility in Clewiston, Florida is the world’s largest vertically integrated sugarcane milling and refining operation — capable of processing 42,000 tons of sugarcane per day and producing ~850,000 tons of refined sugar per year. In addition to sugarcane farming and processing, the company also grows citrus, sweet corn, green beans and other fresh produce.
Imperial Sugar is one of the oldest processors and marketers of refined sugar in the United States to food manufacturers, retail grocers and foodservice distributors. Imperial Sugar Company produces only the finest sugar and specialty sweetener ingredients for consumers, retailers, foodservice distributors, food manufacturers, private label customers, culinary professionals and specialty markets.