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Noble Foods egg deal gets green light

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By Rod Addy+

Last updated on 22-Aug-2014 at 13:59 GMT

Competition authorities have cleared Noble Foods’s acquisition of two egg processing factories in Gainsborough and Harrogate from Manton’s.

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) had put the deal on hold in May , pending a 40-day review into whether it would give Noble Foods an unfair market advantage. That review began on June 25.

However, the CMA confirmed to today (August 22) that no further investigation was necessary, as it had concluded that the transaction could proceed. It inherited the case from the Office of Fair Trading when it was abolished on April 1 this year.

Noble Foods, the UK’s largest egg packer, clinched an agreement in February to take over the two plants.

Threatening 100 jobs

At the time, local press reports suggested Noble Foods wanted to shift liquid egg processing from Bilsthorpe, Nottinghamshire, to the acquired facilities this year, shutting the Bilsthorpe site and threatening 100 jobs.

Noble Foods was formed by the merger of Stonegate Farmers and Deans Food Group. However, in April 2007 the Competition Commission required Noble Foods to sell Clifford Kent Holdings, Stonegate’s parent company, to satisfy concerns that its market dominance would lead to higher egg prices.

Aside from handling shell eggs, Noble Foods also processes egg products, owns premium desserts business Gü Puds and Didier’s Patisserie and has poultry processing and feed milling interests. It also owns the Happy Eggs brand.

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