Minerva Foods and Marfrig have both denied receiving any communication from the Uruguayan competition watchdog that it intends to block a deal between the two meat groups.

A deal announced last year for Minerva to buy cattle slaughtering and deboning plants from Marfrig has reportedly been blocked by a competition regulator, according to Uruguayan publication Telenoche.

La Comisión de Promoción y Defensa de la Competencia (CPDC), Uruguay’s competition watchdog, decided to stop the purchase yesterday (16 May), Telenoche wrote.

Both beef companies have since released statements saying they “have not received any decision on that matter from the competent authorities”.

In identical statements, Minerva and Marfrig wrote today (17 May): “The company reiterates its commitment to, in accordance with applicable regulations, keeping its shareholders and the market in general informed about any act or relevant fact related to the matter and remains available to provide any additional clarifications that may be necessary.”

Minerva had originally agreed last year to pay 7.5bn reais ($1.53bn) for assets located in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Minerva said it would acquire three plants in Uruguay.

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According to Telenoche, Minerva already owns four plants in Uruguay but the CPDC reportedly blocked the deal in the second stage of the approval process as it would unfairly affect other beef processors.

Minerva and Marfrig now reportedly have a period of ten days to present their defenses, in advance of a ruling that would be decided next week, according to another Uruguayan publication named Ámbito.

When the purchase was agreed, it was reported the deal will expand Minerva’s cattle slaughtering and deboning capacity by 44% to 42,439 head a day.

“We are very excited about this move, which is in line with our geographical diversification strategy, and which uniquely complements our operation in South America, which is one of the most competitive markets in the world,” Minerva CEO Fernando Queiroz said at the time.

“This will take our company to another level, give us access to new international clients, maximise commercial opportunities and operational synergies, reduce risks, and expand our ability to compete in the international animal protein market.”