Vion sells pork unit

Vion has ended the speculation around the sale of its pork operations with the announcement of an equity backed management buyout of the business.

 

The Dutch-based business said the deal, which was subject to competition authority approval in Ireland, would see the managing director of its pork business unit, Seamus Carr, lead the purchase which is backed by UK private equity firm Endless and should secure around 4,000 jobs.

The purchase is the first agreement following Vion’s announcement that it was quitting the UK to refocus its activities on its core markets in the Netherlands and Germany. The company said discussions over the purchase of its poultry and red meat business units were ongoing with "a number of prospective purchasers".

The pork unit features facilities in Wiveliscombe, Malton, Haverhill, Scunthorpe, Hull, Stoke and Enfield in England, at Cookstown in Northern Ireland and the pig farming and feed mill operation in Scotland at Brydock, Aberdeenshire, as well as the McGees butchers business in the Republic of Ireland.

Carr said: "Vion’s decision to sell its UK business naturally caused a degree of uncertainty amongst staff, suppliers and customers.

"Therefore, I’m very pleased that we have quickly been able to agree a deal for the pork business which secures the future for our staff, our suppliers and gives our customers a seamless transition.

"Our ambitions for the new business are firstly to maintain the excellent levels of service and product quality which have helped us secure orders from all the major supermarkets and then to build upon the opportunities in the marketplace to grow the business."

Peter Barr, chairman of Vion UK, added: "When we announced our intention to sell, we highlighted the viability of the UK businesses and the strong interest from prospective purchasers.

"The swiftness with which we’ve been able to agree a deal with the management team of the pork business unit, which knows the company inside-out, underlines our confidence in the sales process.

"It’s therefore very encouraging that the pork business unit should be the subject of a successful and swift sale and this augurs well for our ongoing discussions with prospective buyers of the remaining areas of the business.

"This is the very best outcome and I am sure the response from everyone involved, from our farmers and suppliers, to our employees and customers, will be extremely positive.

"We will now be focussing our attentions on securing the sales of our remaining poultry and red meat operations in the UK, which employ around 8,000 people. Both businesses remain profitable and cash-generative and are generating significant interest from prospective purchasers."

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