Commission assessing proposed ABP Group/Slaney merger ‘very carefully’

The European Commission is currently investigating the proposed acquisition by the ABP Group of Slaney Meats and are due to make a decision no later than Friday, October 7.

The EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has assured Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, that the investigation is assessing the issue very carefully and has been reaching out to a large number of market participants.

Speaking in Strasbourg ahead of Fridays deadline, McGuinness said she was reassured about the thoroughness of the investigation.

The proposed acquisition has given rise to much concern on the part of primary beef and lamb producers about negative consequences arising from the diminution of competition in the sector.

“The Commissioner is paying very close attention to the recent report commissioned by the IFA on the issue,” McGuinness said.

“At this stage it looks like the Commission is doing everything to ensure that it is acquainted with the nuances of the Irish market and that its decision on Friday will be reached following full and careful consideration of the competition issues at play,” she said.

On Friday, the proposed deal could either be approved with low conditions, subject to conditions or a detailed investigation could be launched.

A detailed investigation is understood to last 90 working days, after which the proposed transaction will be approved, conditionally approved or blocked.

However, earlier this month a report commissioned by the IFA found that the proposed ABP/Slaney meats deal poses a risk of a substantial lessening of competition (SLC) in the State.

The overall conclusion of the report, which was prepared by Dr Pat McCloghan of PMCA Economic Consulting, is that the “relevant market affected by the proposed transaction is characterised by weak competition and that the proposed deal poses a risk of an SLC in the State or an SIEC at EU level”.

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