Dawn Meats deal yet to be notified to Irish competition authorities

Across Dawn Meats and Dunbia, the businesses process approximately 900,000 cattle and 2.6m sheep annually

Farm organisations believe Dawn Meats taking a majority stake in Dunbia is a bad thing
Farm organisations believe Dawn Meats taking a majority stake in Dunbia is a bad thing
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The planned new tie-up between Dawn Meats and Dunbia has yet to be notified to the Irish completion authorities.

Last week, Dawn Meats agreed a strategic partnership with Dunbia to establish a majority owned joint venture in the UK comprising the UK operations of both organisations.

Dawn will separately acquire Dunbia’s operations in the Republic of Ireland.

The deal is subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities. However a spokesperson for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said it has not received formal notification of a proposed transaction.

Firms are required to notify the CCPC once certain financial thresholds have been reached.

If an acquisition meets these thresholds then the acquisition must be notified to the CCPC, provided the combined turnover of the companies involved does not exceed the European Union Merger Regulation thresholds, in which case it must be notified to the European Commission. 

As far as the CCPC is aware the transaction has not been notified to the European Commission, the spokesperson said.  

Under the proposed transaction, Dawn Meats in Ireland will have 9 facilities (including 5 abattoirs), following the addition of two complementary Dunbia facilities - one abattoir in Slane, and one boning hall in Kilbeggan.

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The combined UK businesses will trade as Dunbia and according to both parties will deliver enhanced scale and market presence to better serve existing farmer suppliers and customers of both organisations across the retail, manufacturing, wholesale and food service sectors. 

Both Dawn and Dunbia have also said the businesses are highly complementary, and will offer customers regionally sourced solutions for both beef and lamb from 15 facilities across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, commenting on the announcement, the Chairperson of the ICMSA Livestock Committee, Michael Guinan, said that farmers are incredibly wary of the present trend towards concentration in the beef industry.

Guinan commented that while no-one doubted that companies might have to reorganise and restructure in light of Brexit, the danger was that such reorganisation resulted in a narrowing of sales options for the farmers producing the beef. 

“This had to be guarded against and it underlined – yet again – the pressing need for a concentrated and co-ordinated drive on the live exports front that would give the farmers alternative outlets for their cattle,” he said.

Mr. Guinan said that farmers were justifiably concerned that ongoing concentration in beef processing will translate into lower prices and further pressure on already stressed margins.

He said that it is important that farmers are given assurances in relation to this critical issue and that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine ensures that farmers continue to have options when selling cattle – options that must include enhanced live exports.

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