ABP buys remaining 50 per cent stake in Linden Foods

ABP Food Group has acquired full ownership of Dungannon-based Linden Foods alongside current owner Fane Valley
Gary McDonald Business Editor

ABP Food Group, the Irish beef company privately-owned by Larry Goodman, has assumed full control of Northern Ireland-based meat supplier Linden Foods.

It has agreed a deal in principle with Fane Valley Co-op to buy the remaining 50 per cent holding in Linden's red meat business for an undisclosed sum.

Linden has its main facility in Dungannon, as well as Kettyle Irish Foods in Enniskillen, and the deal also takes in the Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats businesses in the Republic.

These businesses have operated as an ABP/Fane Valley joint venture for the last five years.

ABP said the businesses will continue to operate under their respective trading names for the foreseeable future and the sites will continue to operate as normal.

The deal remains subject to approval by the relevant regulatory and competition authorities.

Frank Stephenson, chief executive of ABP, said the arrangement will ensure the company continues to be a dynamic and innovative organisation as it faces into the challenges of operating in a competitive global marketplace, and will also address the ongoing issues around changing agricultural policies, Brexit and Covid-19.

Trevor Lockhart, chief executive of Fane Valley, said that the Linden, Slaney and ICM businesses have progressed positively during the joint venture relationship with ABP.

"The trading environment however does not stand still, and all businesses need to continue to evolve and develop to maintain their competitive position in the market," he added.

"Having reviewed the way forward with our JV partner and taking account of anticipated market developments, we have jointly concluded that the future objectives for Linden, Slaney and ICM can be best achieved under a new business structure."

Ulster Farmers' Union deputy president William Irvine described the announcement as “an interesting development” and one which could benefit the north's livestock sector.

He said: “The transaction has the potential to create closer links and strengthen the export relationship Northern Ireland has with other countries as it would group the processing factories together. But it is essential that competition between the processors is not hindered in any way going forward.

“Prices have been relatively strong over the past number of months and we hope our farmers continue to receive fair prices for their high-quality cattle from processers, especially when beef producers have been impacted with higher production costs in the past year, meaning the farmgate prices they gained took an immediate cut to compensate for the extra expenses incurred.”

More than 1,700 people are employed by ABP and its joint venture partners in the north, and the company works with over 10,000 farm families, supplying its products to many of Britain's leading retailers and food service providers.

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