The planned merger between Irish dairy companies Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick Dairies can go ahead, according to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The decision came in an official ruling on Tuesday (5 March), some eight months after the proposed deal was first announced.

Last month the CMA said the planned merger was no longer under an enforcement order, suggesting to onlookers it was planning to give the deal the all-clear – but that final decision has only been taken now.

The CMA was able to investigate the deal because the Irish companies have a significant presence in Northern Ireland and the acquisition is to be made by Lakeland Dairies (NI).

A proposed deal was first announced last July. The planned amalgamation of the two companies went to a shareholder vote in October when 95.99% of the shareholders in LacPatrick Dairies voted in favour of the transaction and an even larger percentage of Lakeland Dairies’ owners – 97.24% – also supported the move.

The CMA probed the deal because it said it had “reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is, or maybe the case, that arrangements are in progress or in contemplation, which, if carried into effect, will result in Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick Dairies ceasing to be distinct.”

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By GlobalData

Bu,t in its ruling on Tuesday, the CMA said it had investigated and cleared the anticipated acquisition.

It said the full text of the decision will be available shortly.