ABP has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with Fane Valley Co-op to acquire the remaining 50% holding in its red meat business.

The transaction will be subject to approval by the relevant regulatory and competition authorities.

The transaction includes Linden Foods in Northern Ireland and Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats businesses in the Republic of Ireland.

These businesses have operated as an ABP/Fane Valley joint venture for the last five years.

The businesses will continue to operate under their respective trading names for the foreseeable future and the sites will continue to operate as normal. The amount of the transaction is not disclosed.

Commenting on the transaction, ABP chief executive Frank Stephenson said: "This development is the direct result of our successful joint venture arrangement, which has enabled all parties to improve their offerings to customers and to compete more effectively nationally and internationally.

"The time is now right to build on this success ensuring that we continue to be a dynamic and innovative organisation as we face into the challenges of operating in a very competitive global marketplace, while also addressing the ongoing challenges of changing agricultural policies, Brexit and Covid-19."

Trevor Lockhart, chief executive of Fane Valley, commented: "The Linden, Slaney and ICM businesses have progressed positively during our joint venture relationship with ABP.

"The trading environment, however, does not stand still, and all businesses need to continue to evolve and develop to maintain their competitive position in the market," he added.

"Having reviewed the way forward with our joint venture partner and taking account of anticipated market developments, we have jointly concluded that the future objectives for Linden, Slaney and ICM can be best achieved under a new business structure, hence [this] announcement."

Lockhart said that business would continue as normal pending regulatory approval.