Imperial Sugar Co. announced it will not exercise its option to acquire a 50 percent equity interest in Wholesome Sweeteners, Inc. from its partner in the joint venture. The company was granted the option to acquire 100 percent ownership of this leading U.S. organic and natural sweeter company in July 2008, and it will expire by its terms on May 31, 2011.
John Sheptor, the company’s CEO, said in a prepared statement, “The company’s decision not to purchase the remaining 50 percent of Wholesome at this time through the exercise of the option was based on a number of strategic and other relevant considerations. We have been pleased with the favorable trends in the growth and profitability of Wholesome’s business, and continue to be optimistic about Wholesome’s future prospects. The company remains committed to its sweeteners strategy.”
The Wholesome joint venture agreement provides that if, after the option has expired, a third party agrees to pay a specified minimum price for 100 percent of Wholesome, subject to certain conditions, both the company and its joint venture partner could be required to sell their stake in such a sale. There is no assurance that any sale or purchase transaction will occur.
Sheptor said, “Imperial will work with our joint venture partner in the manner contemplated by our joint venture agreement, but we have left open the possibility of discussing with our partner a negotiated sale or purchase of our respective equity interests in Wholesome. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with our joint venture partner and Wholesome management on improving and expanding this exciting business.”