EU approval of Goodman’s Slaney deal criticised by farmers

European competition authorities approve ABP buyout of Bert Allen’s 50% Slaney stake

 Larry Goodman.  His ABP is entering a joint venture with Fane Valley Group, which owns the other 50%  stake in Wexford-based Slaney

Larry Goodman. His ABP is entering a joint venture with Fane Valley Group, which owns the other 50% stake in Wexford-based Slaney

 

Larry Goodman’s ABP Food Group has received EU competition approval to buy out rival beef baron Bert Allen’s 50 per cent stake in Slaney Foods, prompting criticism from farming bodies.

The multimillion euro deal will result in ABP entering a joint venture with Fane Valley Group, which owns the other 50 per cent stake in Wexford-based Slaney. All three companies are active in the purchase and slaughter of cattle, sheep and lambs, as well as de-boning and processing of meat.

Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) chairman Edmond Phelan said the decision “will only add to the perception that the EU is good at regulating small enterprises but weak on big business”.

“EU rules demand that producer groups cannot control more than 15 per cent of supply, yet ABP factories have now received the green light to control in excess of 28 per cent of the cattle trade and 40 per cent of the sheep trade,” Mr Phelan said.

The ICSA claims that Slaney typically paid above average prices for heifers and steers, and expressed concern that this would now be eroded.

No conditions

It said that various slaughterhouses with spare capacity would continue to operate in Ireland, including in the southeast of the country, where the Slaney Foods joint venture cattle slaughtering facility is located.

Irish Farmers’ Association president Joe Healy said that this finding “flies in the face” of the main conclusion of a report by PCMA Economic Consulting last month that the market for cattle was characterised by weak competition and that the ABP/Slaney deals is likely to weaken it further.

However, ABP Food Group chief executive Frank Stephenson said that the transaction “was always about securing better international markets for meat products, and developing an industry that needs to evolve to remain relevant and compete effectively on the global stage”.

The parties did not disclose the monetary value of the accord.