Northern Ireland meat group Dunbia said today (24 May) it had agreed to establish a majority-owned joint venture with peer Dawn Meats, based across the border in the Republic of Ireland, to comprise the UK operations of both firms.

Dawn Meats will separately acquire Dunbia’s operations in the Republic of Ireland, in a deal that will be subject to approval by competition authorities, Dunbia said.

Financial details of the deal, which was the subject of speculation earlier this year, were not disclosed. A spokesperson for the companies told just-food Dawn Meats would be the majority owner but the allocation of shares is not being disclosed.

Dawn Meats’ CEO Niall Browne, who will be executive chairman of the joint venture, said: “Given the uncertainty posed by Brexit, this partnership should further underpin the competitiveness of both operations to the benefit of all stakeholders in the UK, Ireland and across Europe.”

Dunbia CEO Jim Dobson will become CEO of the new joint venture, which will be run from the company’s existing headquarters in Dungannon. In Ireland, Dawn Meats will have nine facilities, including five abattoirs, following the addition of two complementary Dunbia facilities – an abattoir in Slane and a boning hall in Kilbeggan.

“The combined UK businesses will trade as Dunbia and will deliver enhanced scale and market presence to better serve existing farmer suppliers and customers of both organisations across the retail, manufacturing, wholesale and foodservice sectors,” Dunbia said. “The businesses are highly complementary, and will offer customers regionally-sourced solutions for both beef and lamb from 15 facilities across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

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Browne said: “Given the uncertainty posed by Brexit, this partnership should further underpin the competiveness of both operations to the benefit of all stakeholders in the UK, Ireland and across Europe. In our key operating markets, we will be involved in three leading national businesses with Dawn Meats in Ireland, Dunbia in the UK and Elivia in France, with our co-operative partners Terrena.”

Dawn Meats is a 49% shareholder in Elivia, which it said is the number two beef processor in France, processing about 500,000 cattle annually.

Across Dawn Meats and Dunbia, the businesses process around 900,000 cattle and 2.6m sheep annually.