The U.S. Department of Justice has dropped its antitrust investigation into JBS USA's acquisition of Candian-based beefpacker XL Foods, allowing the company to complete its purchasing transaction effective April 8.
JBS last year announced the intended acquisition of two U.S. plants, located in Omaha, Neb., and Nampa, Idaho. The plants were part of a larger purchase that included a feedlot and two other plants in Canada.
Together, the Omaha and Nampa plants have the capacity to process 2,200 cattle per day. However, the Nampa plant is currently idle and the company has no immediate plans to reopen the facility.
The purchase price for the assets was $50 million in cash and $50 million in JBS S.A. shares.
About 40 livestock and consumer groups in the U.S. denounced the acquisition, fearing it would reduce competition and harm cattle producers in the U.S.
"We request that no early termination of the antitrust evaluation regarding the acquisition of the two U.S.-based beef packing plants be granted and that the Justice Department make a second request for information to extend the investigation," the groups wrote in a December 2012 letter.
The groups also pointed out that the investigation was the second that the DOJ had undertaken against JBS within the last five years. In 2008, the DOJ initiated antitrust enforcement action that prevented JBS USA from acquiring National Beef Packing Company, the fourth largest beef packer in the U.S.
JBS S.A. is the world’s largest protein company with 301 production facilities worldwide and more than 135,000 employees. The company processes beef, pork, lamb and poultry in addition to processing leather and other animal by-products. It operates in more than 151 countries on five continents.