Natural Foods Merchandiser

White Wave lawsuit against Dean dismissed by federal judge

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by White Wave, the soy products maker based in Boulder, Colo., against its largest outside shareholder. As NFM reported last August, White Wave filed the suit against Dean Dip and Dressing Co., a subsidiary of Dean Foods Co., of Franklin Park, Ill., alleging that Dean's proposed merger with Dallas-based Suiza Foods Corp., violated an agreement that prohibited Dean from transferring its White Wave shares without allowing White Wave the first opportunity to buy them back. White Wave contended the merger would give Sun Soy manufacturer Suiza—its primary competitor—effective control over its operations. Dean holds a 36 percent stake in White Wave.

In a statement issued in December, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said White Wave didn't seek enough protection when it entered a partnership with Dean Dip in 1999. White Wave "had an adequate opportunity to protect themselves by insisting on additional language in the agreement. The court has no authority to change that language to their benefit," Matsch wrote.

White Wave's founder and CEO Steve Demos said he was "disappointed" with the ruling and that the company was studying its options. "We are, and continue to be, focused on managing our business and brands," he added.

Suiza's acquisition of Dean was approved in December by the U.S. Justice Department.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 1/p. 1

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