The boards of LacPatrick Dairies and Lakeland Dairies have agreed to enter into exclusive discussions regarding an amalgamation of the two Societies.
In a statement LacPatrick said any agreement reached, will be subject to shareholder approval and the relevant regulatory clearance.
Aurivo, Dale Farm and Glanbia had also expressed interest in buying LacPatrick since it effectively put itself up for sale in April. EY had been engaged to manage the sale process, with progress expected over the coming month.
It is understood the sale process saw a LacPatrick board subcommittee of four, including chairmen Andrew McConkey and vice-chairman Robert Skelton and Keith Agnew, consider the offers once they have been assessed by EY.
Any proposals seen as viable will then be presented to the full board, and ultimately to farmer shareholders for approval.
Co-op members will have the final say, and any deal will need backing from 75pc of members.
If, as is likely, LacPatrick is consolidated by a rival co-op controlled dairy then the buyer’s members will also have to back a deal.
LacPatrick was formed from the merger of Town of Monaghan Dairy in the Republic and Ballyrashane Dairy in the North. It processes more than 600 million litres of milk from more than 1,000 farmers, roughly half on each side of the Border.
A little over 171m hectares of land in the European Union (EU) were used for agricultural production in 2016 – about 40pc of the EU’s total land area. This supported about 10.3m farms and farm managers.
The business is headed by CEO Gabriel D’Arcy.
Lakeland Dairies is a farmer owned dairy processing co-operative with operations across 15 counties on a cross border basis. Lakeland collects and processes over 1.2 Billion litres of locally milk from its 2500 suppliers each year into a wide range of value-added dairy foodservice and food ingredient products which it exports worldwide.
Recently Lakeland said its milk intakes are set to increase by 22pc to almost 1.45 billion litres by 2022.
By Ciaran Moran
Source: Irish Independent
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