Danish Arla gets green light to acquire British co-op Milk Link

Danish dairy firm Arla Foods amba said on Friday it had been cleared by the European Commission to proceed with its takeover of British co-operative Milk Link Ltd as long as it satisfies a condition related to competition in the UK long life milk market.

Arla will have to offload Milk Link’s milk drinks business at the Crediton dairy, whose product pipeline includes long life milk, long life cream, extended shelf life milk and flavoured dairy drinks and fresh bulk cream. Those operations, which the Danish company has pledged to keep sound until their disposal to a buyer in a deal approved by the EC, will be ring fenced from the remainder of the merged business, the company said.

The condition has no impact on Arla’s British long life milk operations, based at its Settle creamery.

Arla unveiled its plan to buy Milk Link, as well as German co-operative Milch-Union Hocheifel, on 22 May in a drive to cement its European dairy presence. It said then that the amalgamated operations would have an aggregate 12,300 co-operative owners in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the UK, versus a total of 8,024 only in Denmark, Sweden and Germany at the time.

Arla’s board of representatives gave the green light to the deals on 26 June. The merger in the UK creates the biggest dairy specialist in the country. Completion is scheduled for 1 October.