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JBS, National Beef call off deal

(AP)--A buyout in the beef industry that had been the subject of an antitrust lawsuit has been called off.

Brazilian beef producer JBS S.A., the world's largest beef packer, and National Beef Packing Co., said Feb. 20 in a joint statement that they are dropping the deal.

Last March, JBS had said it would acquire Kansas City, Miss.-based National Beef in a $560 million stock-and-cash transaction. National Beef is the nation's fourth-largest beef processor.

But in October, regulators filed a lawsuit blocking the deal, saying it could push up costs for consumers and drive down prices paid to ranchers and feedlots.

It's not immediately clear if that affected the decision to call off the deal. The companies did not say why in their statement.

Messages left with the Department of Justice were not immediately returned.

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