April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. food and grain-handling companies , and Inc have moved closer to sealing a deal to merge their North American flour mill operations by agreeing to sell four mills to a Japanese company.
, a U.S.-based unit of -based Nisshin Flour Milling Inc, will buy the four U.S. mills, the companies said on Thursday.
Divesting the operations was part of the companies' plans to complete the merger and create a company called Ardent Mills, which would control a third of the U.S. flour market.
Completion of the deal has taken longer than expected due to an investigation by the 's antitrust division.
Under the deal, ConAgra is joining forces with Horizon Milling LLC - a joint operation between Cargill and that already is the largest flour miller in the. The deal was first made public in March 2013 and was initially expected to close late last year.
Those flour mills are in Los Angeles and ConAgra's facilities in, ; , ; and , .