Domestic, overseas suitors eyeing up LacPatrick deal
Concerned farmers have urged that LacPatrick Dairies must be given the "space and time" to decide the best option for the Border region co-op.
It comes as at least one overseas investor, alongside domestic co-operatives, have expressed an interest in a possible tie-up with the dairy processor.
Any merger would need backing from 75pc of members and Lakeland Dairies is understood to be the most likely partner.
However, industry sources have also indicated Aurivo is now looking at LacPatrick.
Glanbia Ireland's Jim Bergin refused to say if they may be interested in the co-op. "We have a number of arrangements in place and we've good relations with them and that will be down to the board to decide at some point," he said.
A spokesman for Lakeland Dairies said they noted LacPatrick's statement but declined to comment. "LacPatrick is a substantial business with strong heritage in co-operative dairy farming," he said.
However, Northern Ireland's Dale Farms, which is owned by over 1,300 dairy farmers across the UK, stated it was "interested". LacPatrick, which has a cross-Border milk pool, confirmed that it is looking at possible deals including partnerships, joint ventures, mergers and other opportunities to consolidate the dairy industry. It follows a number of approaches in recent months.
The business is profitable and has made significant investment to Brexit-proof its operations, but many suppliers were left disgruntled after its most recent milk price announcement.