The merger of Town of Monaghan (ToM) and Ballyrashane co-ops will be completed within the next two months, according to ToM Chief Executive Gabriel D’Arcy.

“The joining of the businesses represents the culmination of a long-established relationship between both entities,” he said.

“Formal meetings involving members of both boards took place before Christmas. I can confirm that the details of the merger have been agreed in full. It will take another two months to compete the legal formalities. A new name for the merged business will follow.”

The co-ops have a combined milk pool of 550m litres and last year recorded a joint turnover of €300m.

“Both businesses complement each other,” said D’Arcy.

“Ballyrashane has a specialised fractionated butter business while Town of Monaghan is committed to new processing technologies, which will allow us add value to the non-butter components of milk.

“With this in mind a commitment has already been made to invest between €25m and €30m at our Artigarvan plant in north Co. Tyrone.

“Both businesses also have a robust brand profile in the marketplace. Ballyrashane has strong liquid milk, butter and cheese lines. The Champion liquid milk and yoghurt brand is synonymous with Town of Monaghan while our Leckpatrick milk powders are amongst the most sought after on the African market.”

D’Arcy believes that the merged business will be well placed to ride out the financial, volatility-related storms coming the way of the Irish dairy industry over the coming years.

“It has been my experience that only those businesses with a strong balance sheet will survive the ups and downs of a volatile marketplace. And this is exactly what the new business brings to the table. The ability to simply generate profits is not enough when it comes to long term, commercial survival,” he said.

“We have no existing debts. But I would have hesitation in borrowing money to invest in the right growth opportunities for the future.”

When asked if he will be the Chief Executive of the new business, D’Arcy said that the decision would be taken by the new board.

“But I will be putting my name forward for the position.”