Britain’s Competition Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, today approved the merger between Arla Foods’ UK subsidiary, Arla Foods plc UK, and Express Dairies plc.
The merger to be named Arla Foods UK plc will create a leading UK dairy supplier to the major supermarkets and other outlets with a substantially broader product offering and leading brands including Lurpak and Anchor. Together, Arla Foods plc UK and Express Dairies plc’s combined turnover will total approx. DKK 15 billion per year, process 2.3 billion litres of milk per year and employ a workforce of 7000.
“As Europe’s largest dairy co-operative we are delighted that today’s announcement will result in the formation of Arla Foods UK plc. The enlarged Group will have an enviable range of brands and breadth of products that will enable it to use its expertise in manufacturing, R&D and marketing to grow the business within the UK,” says Jens Bigum, Group Managing Director, Arla Foods amba.
The Competition Minister also published the Competition Commission’s report on the case. It concluded that the merger was not expected to operate against the public interest.
The only remaining condition to the merger is the admission of the new Arla Foods UK plc shares to the Official List of the UK Listing Authority, which is expected to occur on 22 October 2003. The agreement between the two companies means that Arla Foods amba will hold 51% of the shares. The remaining 49% of the shares will be held by the current shareholders of Express Dairies.
Commenting on the decision Sir David Naish, Chairman, Express says:
“We are delighted with today’s decision which will see the formation of a substantially stronger Group with the financial resources to further develop our business to the benefit of all our stakeholders. We have long said that the UK dairy industry requires rationalisation and the merger of Express and Arla UK will go a considerable way towards achieving this.”