Swedish Competition Authority to further investigate Falbygdens sale

Swedish Competition Authority to further investigate Falbygdens sale

The Swedish Competition Authority has highlighted concerns over the proposed acquisition of Atria's specialty cheese business, Falbygdens, by Arla Foods.

After a preliminary investigation lasting 25 working days, the competition watchdog initiated a "phase two" probe into the deal yesterday (15 December). A spokesperson for the Authority told just-food the body's preliminary findings necessitated a "more detailed investigation".

"We have concerns that have come up during phase one... We are not sure how strong the combination of Arla and Falbygdens will be when it comes to sales of Swedish hard cheese to retailers and foodservice."

In particular, the Swedish Competition Authority also has a number of "vertical concerns" that need to be addressed. The spokesperson said milk suppliers are worried the absorption of Falbygdens into Arla's dairy cooperative structure would mean the loss of an "important market" for their raw milk.

A more concentrated market could also mean it is harder for Arla's Swedish and foreign competitors to enter the sector, the spokesperson concluded.

The Swedish Competition Authority has until 15 March to complete its investigation and reach a final decision on whether to block the deal.

The acquisition was announced in October. At the time, Arla said it expected to close the deal in January "at the earliest". Financial details were not disclosed.