The merger of Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick co-operatives has secured regulatory approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission here and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

It clears the last significant hurdle for the merger to go ahead.

In October 2018, the Lakeland and LacPatrick shareholders voted 97pc and 96pc respectively in favour of forming the second-largest dairy processor on the island of Ireland with a cross-border milk pool of 1.8bn litres, produced by 3,200 farms from 15 counties.

British and Irish authorities each determined that competition will not be adversely affected by the combination.

The co-op will have a combined annual turnover in excess of €1bn.

A number of standard legal and administrative procedures must still be completed to enable the new Society to begin trading at the end of March. Until then, the two co-ops will continue to operate independently with each setting its own milk price.

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