U.S. to appeal court loss against sugar merger

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it would appeal a judge's ruling that U.S. Sugar Corp's plans to buy rival Imperial Sugar Co was legal under antitrust law, according to a court filing.

Judge Maryellen Noreika of the U.S. District Court for Delaware had ruled for the companies on Friday, rejecting the government's request that she stop the deal from going forward.

Asked about the government's indication that it would appeal, U.S. Sugar said: "We look forward to expeditiously closing this acquisition as planned."

The Justice Department said in a lawsuit filed last November that the $315 million deal would give some 75% of refined sugar sales in the U.S. Southeast to U.S. Sugar, owner and member of a cooperative with three other companies, and American Sugar Refining, which sells under the Domino brand.

The company said late on Monday that it planned to consummate the transaction as quickly as possible.

U.S. sugar also intends to invest in upgrading Imperial's Savannah Refinery and operations, and plans to retain the current employees in the facility, its Chief Executive Officer Robert Buker said.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Anirudh Saligrama; Editing by Kim Coghill and Rashmi Aich)