FTC seeks to stop Post Holding's proposed acquisition of TreeHouse unit

FILE PHOTO: Federal Trade Commission seal is seen at a news conference to announce that Facebook Inc has agreed to a settlement of allegations it mishandled user privacy at FTC Headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint asking a judge to stop Post Holdings Inc’s proposed purchase of TreeHouse Foods, Inc.’s private-label cereal business, the agency said on Thursday.

The FTC said that Post and TreeHouse were two of only three manufacturers of private-label cereals, which are usually sold under a retailer’s brand name.

The deal was worth about $110 million, the FTC said. All five FTC commissioners, three Republicans and two Democrats, voted to approve the lawsuit.

The FTC said it filed a complaint to be heard by an FTC administrative law judge, and would file in federal court if needed to prevent the deal from closing while the FTC case is heard.

“Households nationwide benefit from the robust competition between Post and TreeHouse, and a merger between these companies would likely lead to higher prices and reduced quality of the store-brand cereals that consumers enjoy today,” Ian Conner, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.

Reporting by Diane Bartz, Tim Ahmann and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler