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Askeaton plant sold in €9bn Nestle deal

Nestle has bought Pfizer's nutrition business in a deal worth more than €9bn. The sale includes includes five manufacturing plants, including an infant formula facility at Askeaton , Co Limerick.

The price was 20pc higher than what analysts first predicted last year, suggesting that the world's largest food company sees substantial growth opportunities in the infant formula and sports nutrition sectors.

While it is still subject to regulatory approval, the move signals the end of Pfizer's involvement in the infant formula business, which reduces the number of players in the sector to six.

Nestle expects to generate €1.8bn in sales from the new business in 2012. It is the company's biggest acquisition in over a decade and represents Nestle's first step back into manufacturing on Irish soil since it closed its chocolate plant in Mallow in 2004. The Askeaton plant was originally owned by Wyeth before it was bought by Pfizer in 2009.

The firm beat off competition from Danone in order to secure the Pfizer business which boasts strong sales in emerging markets in the East, especially in China, where foreign infant formula retails for double the price of domestically produced product.

China will now be the third largest market for Nestle, reflecting the fact that the eastern super power recently eclipsed the US as the world's largest retail market, with an overall value of almost $1 trillion. In addition, the Chinese market is expected to grow by 50pc before 2020.

Darragh McCullough

Indo Farming