Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick have received approval from the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Ireland for their merger.

According to the regulatory authorities, the merger can now be completed as the deal would not adversely affect competition.

Lakeland Dairies chairman Alo Duffy said: “The merger will help us to create efficiencies across our organisation, which will enhance value and maximise available market returns for the benefit of milk producers.

“I express our strong appreciation to the shareholders of both societies for their confidence in this historic development, which will underpin the long term sustainability of our dairy farming enterprises for the future.”

“97% of Lakeland shareholders and 96% of LacPatrick shareholders voted in favour of the merger.”

With the receipt of regulatory approval, which was the last major hurdle for the merger to proceed, a new society called Lakeland Dairies Co-Operative Society will be created.

This entity will become Ireland’s second-largest dairy processor that will have a cross-border milk pool of 1.8 billion litres, produced by 3,200 farms.

Last October, 97% of Lakeland shareholders and 96% of LacPatrick shareholders voted in favour of the merger.

The new society is expected to begin trading by the end of this month after completion of standard legal and administrative procedures.

Until then, the two co-ops will continue to operate as independent business units.

With an annual turnover of more than €1bn, the co-op is expected to compete at an international level.

LacPatrick Dairies chairman Andrew McConkey said: “We look forward to the continuing future success of Lakeland Dairies as a fully integrated dairy industry player, creating efficiencies and further added value for our milk producers with enhanced global market access for our high-quality dairy products.

“The merger gives our farmers the necessary security to make long-term business decisions and provides stability for continuing progress in dairy farming for the next generation.”