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EU clears way for $1.5bn Moy Park deal to conclude


Moy Park, which has a site in Portadown, is to be taken over by Brazilian food group JBS

Moy Park, which has a site in Portadown, is to be taken over by Brazilian food group JBS

Moy Park, which has a site in Portadown, is to be taken over by Brazilian food group JBS

Northern Ireland's biggest ever food deal is expected to complete this week as Moy Park is taken over by Brazilian food group JBS in a $1.5bn (£988m) deal.

The deal received EU Regulatory Approval in recent days, clearing the final hurdle after months of fine-tuning the takeover.

But the deal was deemed by the European Commission not to pose a threat to competition because the companies have limited market share.

Moy Park is Northern Ireland's biggest employer, with 6,300 employees in the province and another 5,400 in Great Britain.

It also employs 800 people in France, 100 in Holland and around 50 in the Republic of Ireland. Customers include supermarkets like Asda and Waitrose as well as fast food giants such as McDonald's and Burger King.

It has been a trailblazing firm in Northern Ireland and last year became the first company in the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies to be led by a woman, chief executive Janet McCollum.

The UK's biggest poultry producer, it had been owned by another Brazilian firm, Marfrig, since 2008.

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And its purchase by JBS gives the bigger firm a much-coveted foothold in the European market.

The deal is expected to be good news for the Northern Ireland economy as former owner Marfrig had been heavily indebted.

But it was nonetheless a surprise to observers that Marfrig chose to sell Moy Park, after months of speculation that it would float Moy Park on the stock market as a means of raising money. Over the last six years, JBS had become one of the world's biggest 'protein' companies, with interests in Brazil, the US and Australia.

No one from Moy Park was available to comment on the report yesterday.

But the deal is one of the biggest corporate transactions of 2015.

Neasa Quigley, joint head of corporate law at law firm Carson McDowell, said: "M&A activity in the market remains very strong, with continued international interest in Northern Ireland trading businesses.

"Our view is that this trend and the high levels of activity are set to continue for the rest of this year and into 2016.

"We advised McKesson Corp on their recent agreement to buy the pharmaceutical distribution business of UDG Healthcare plc, which includes the Sangers business in Northern Ireland.

"It was a transaction of significant value and coming only months after the £1bn sale of Moy Park to another Brazilian food group was announced, it serves to demonstrate that Northern Ireland-based businesses are increasingly very attractive to acquisitive companies that operate on a global level."