UK watchdog to probe Lakeland-LacPatrick merger

Competition and Markets Authority issues initial enforcement order

Lakeland and LacPatrick shareholders voted last month to merge in a move to create a business that will generate revenues of €1 billion. Photograph: iStock

Lakeland and LacPatrick shareholders voted last month to merge in a move to create a business that will generate revenues of €1 billion. Photograph: iStock

 

Lakeland Dairies and rival LacPatrick must put their proposed merger on hold while a second competition watchdog scrutinises the deal.

Lakeland and LacPatrick shareholders voted last month to merge in a move to create a business that will generate revenues of €1 billion.

The Republic’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) began investigating the deal this month to ensure that it will not significantly damage commercial competition.

On Thursday, the equivalent UK body, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), signalled that it also planned to investigate the merger. Both companies have a significant presence in Northern Ireland.

The CMA has issued an initial enforcement order requiring that the companies take no steps to integrate their operations until the authority has finished its probe.

Both the CCPC and the UK regulator are carrying out preliminary phase-one investigations. In the CMA’s case, this could take up to 40 days.

After the initial inquiries, it is open to both regulators to approve the deal or move to a more detailed phase two investigation.

Such investigations by competition authorities are generally expected in the case of substantial mergers.