ABP bid for Slaney referred to Brussels
The proposed move by ABP to take a 50pc stake in Slaney Foods is expected to be referred to the European Commission's competition authority later this week.
It has emerged that the matter is more likely to be examined at European than national level, as the issue crosses two jurisdictions.
Farm bodies have raised concerns over potential competition issues arising in the beef sector. The IFA has pointed out the deal would see ABP move from processing 22pc of the beef kill to 28pc, along with 50pc of rendering in Ireland. Slaney also processes 40pc of the sheep kill.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he had written to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) on the issue.
Mr Coveney said he had made it clear he wanted the Competition authority to look in a "thorough and robust" fashion to ensure there were "no competition issues or dominance issues that may undermine competition for farmers".
"I've made it clear that this is an issue that is of real concern to farmers and my job as Minister for Agriculture is to represent those concerns and make sure they are addressed by the appropriate body," he said.
It is expected the competition watchdog in Ireland would be asked to make a submission to the European authority if the matter is examined at European level.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has emphasised that Irish prices have been consistently above European prices.
The proposed ABP and Slaney Meats partnership would see a restructuring of the Slaney business, which is currently jointly owned by the Allen Family and Northern Ireland's Linden Foods.
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