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Post Holdings settles egg antitrust class action claims

egg antitrust class action
Lawsuit filed by Kraft Foods, General Mills, Kellogg Co. and Nestle S.A. in 2008.

Post Holdings Inc., a consumer packaged goods holding company, recently announced that it has reached an agreement to settle all class claims by direct purchasers of shell eggs against Michael Foods Inc. in the case In re Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litigation, a class action lawsuit filed in 2008 in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Michael Foods will settle all class claims with a $75 million payment. The litigation pertains to a time frame that predates Post’s acquisition of Michael Foods, which was completed in June 2014.

“While we remain confident that our conduct has, at all times, been lawful and entirely appropriate, we believe this settlement is in the best interest of our shareholders, employees, customers and consumers because it effectively eliminates the distraction, expense and exposure of this complex litigation,” said Rob Vitale, president and chief executive officer.

The lawsuit, filed by the largest food manufacturers in the U.S., alleged that 10 egg producers and the United Egg Producers (UEP) conspired to control supplies and prices in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. The lawsuit was brought by Kraft Foods Inc., General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co. and Nestle S.A.

Post expects to record a pretax charge in the first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year for the settlement of this matter, which will be treated as an adjustment for purposes of calculating adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and other non-GAAP measures. Under current law, the settlement is deductible for federal income tax purposes.

The terms of the settlement must be formally documented and are subject to approval by the court following a notice to all class members. While Post expects that the settlement will receive the needed approval, there can be no assurance that the court will approve the agreement as proposed by the parties.

The latest settlement more than doubles the amount of settlement funds secured during the ongoing litigation, bringing the total to $135 million.

However, the lawsuit continues as this settlement does not affect the action filed on behalf of indirect purchasers of shell eggs who were unsuccessful in class certification or dismissed claims by direct purchasers of egg products as the dismissal is being appealed. Additionally, some companies named in the original lawsuit have yet to settle claims against them.

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