The European Commission has decided to refer part of the proposed merger between dairy products company Arla Foods UK and Britain’s Express Dairies to the UK competition authorities.

The Commission said the UK regulator will further assess the competitive impact in the markets for the supply of processed fresh milk and fresh cream in Britain. The Commission said it has approved the rest of the deal.

The Commission said that on 15 May the United Kingdom asked the Commission to refer parts of the case to its competition authorities, namely the market for the procurement of raw milk in the UK, the market for the supply of fresh processed milk in Great Britain and the market for the supply of fresh potted cream (non-bulk cream) in the UK. On these markets the UK argued that the transaction would create significant competition concerns and that they were better placed to deal with these markets.

The Commission’s preliminary assessment is that the market for the supply of fresh milk as well as fresh non-bulk cream raises potential competition concerns which will be better dealt with by the British competition authorities. The same goes for the supply of bottled milk where the merger could affect competition.

Commission rejected the rest of the request as it did not find any competition concerns of its own.