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Buy-out agreement reached for Vion pork sector

VION HAS announced it has reached an agreement for a management buy-ouy of its UK pork operations.

The move by the Dutch-based company will secure around 4,000 jobs, subject to its approval by the Competition Authority in Ireland.

The deal, led by Seamus Carr, managing director of Vion's Pork Business Unit, is backed by UK private equity firm Endless, which has a strong track record of investing in companies in the UK across a wide range of sectors.

Today's announcement follows on from the company's announcement on November 19 that it was selling its UK food operations to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business.

Discussions are ongoing with a number of prospective purchasers for Vion's other UK business units for poultry and red meat.

Vion's UK pork facilities are located 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. In addition, Vion operates the McGees butchers business in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Carr, who will be managing director of the new company 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 welcomed the management buy-out. He said: "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."

"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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