The long-running corn syrup legal case came to an end yesterday, after nearly 10 years of argument. A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. agreed yesterday to pay US$100 m, pending final approval of the US District Court in Peoria, Illinois. The agreement brings the amount plaintiffs have agreed to pay to settle the lawsuit to US$531 m.

The original lawsuit against Staley, Archer Daniels Midland, CPC International and Cargill Inc. claimed that the companies had conspired to fix the prices of high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in products including soft drinks.

CPC International settled for US$7 m in 1996. In March this year, Cargill Inc. stepped out of the lawsuit by offering a $24m settlement to the plaintiffs. Archer Daniels followed suit in June, reaching a US$400m settlement with its accusers. This left Staley as the only remaining accused.

In a statement,  Robert Gibber, Tate & Lyle PLC General Counsel, said: "We deny emphatically involvement in any wrongdoing and believe we were in a position to demonstrate this at trial. However, particularly in light of the recent settlements by the other defendants, a jury trial would have exposed Staley to a degree of risk, itself magnified by automatic tripling of damages and the addition of attorneys' fees, which could not be justified.

"For this reason we reluctantly decided to settle on the best terms available from the plaintiffs as announced today. This agreement does not involve any admission of liability but does remove the uncertainties hanging over Staley from these proceedings."

The price fixing case was scheduled for a jury trial on 7 September.