The big flour industry combo that will create Ardent Mills will also be a boon to Bloomington-based Miller Milling and its Japan-based owner.

The Ardent deal will combine the flour milling assets of Minnetonka-based Cargill, Inver Grove Heights-based CHS and Omaha-based ConAgra Foods into by far the nation’s largest milling company.

To get the blessing of federal anti-trust regulators, the Ardent joint venture was required to divest four mills, including one owned by ConAgra in New Prague.

Miller, which already has mills in California and Virginia, closed Monday on the purchase of four Ardent mills for about $215 million. Two of the divested Ardent mills are in California, while one is in Texas

“It’s a big deal for us,” said Andy Bauer, Miller’s vice president and chief financial officer. “It takes us from two mills to six.”  Miller will become the nation’s fourth largest milling company, up from around tenth, he said.

Miller was purchased in 2012 by Nisshin Seifun Group, a large flour maker in Japan, which was looking to establish a U.S. foothold. “This is part of its strategic plan to expand outside of Japan,” Bauer said.

Miller Milling was founded in 1985 by two Twin Cities men, John Miller, a grain industry executive, and Michael Snow, an attorney.

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