published Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Chattanooga-based Milner Milling to buy rival flour maker

In the biggest acquisition in its 23-year history, the Chattanooga-based Milner Milling Co., is offering to buy Cereal Food Processors Inc., to create the third biggest flour milling company in America.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed and the deal is subject to regulatory review by the U.S. Department of Justice. But officials said Tuesday they hope to complete the sale in April.

Milner, which operates six flour mills, would nearly triple its sales with the purchase of Cereal Foods, which operates 10 mills. Charles Stout, the CEO of Milner, said a new name for the combined business would be announced at a later time.

Milner acquired half of Pendleton Flour Mills (PFM) 11 years ago and manages PFM. With the purchase of Cereal Foods, the combined companies would produce 59,600 cwts (hundred weights) a day of flour.

Once the transaction is completed, the combined company would have flour mills in Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Utah and will control about 11 percent of U.S. flour sales.

The purchase by Milner comes a year after the top two flour milling companies owned by Cargill and ConAgra announced an agreement to combine under the Ardent Mills name. Because of regulatory concerns, Ardent will have to dispose of four of its 44 mills from the two companies.

Based in Chattanooga, Milner Milling is a privately owned milling business that derives its name from its first mill in Milner, Ga.

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.

FourBridges Capital in Chattanooga helped advise Milner in the transaction.

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