Express-Arla Foods merger referred to Competition Commission
The merger between Express Dairies plc and Arla Foods plc in the UK is to be referred to the Competition Commission, the UK’s highest competition authority, the British Minister for Trade and Industry, Gerry Sutcliffe announced Monday.
The Minister made his decision on the basis of a recommendation from the Office of Fair Trading which believes that the planned merger might lead to less competition in the dairy industry.
“It would lead to a reduction in the number of potential suppliers of fresh milk to the larger supermarkets from four to three nationally and potentially from three to two in some regions”, Sutcliffe said.
The Department of Trade and Industry stated that the decision does not in any way prejudge the question of whether or not the proposed merger would be against the public interest. This is for the Competition Commission to determine.
The Competition Commission will report to the Minister on September 24, 2003.
Arla Foods has promised to co-operate fully with the competition authorities.
“We have taken note of the Minister’s decision and will, of course, assist the Competition Commission in all respects while it considers the issues,” Kim Nielsen, Group Director, Arla Foods said.
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