THE UK’S largest arable supply and marketing company has been created after receiving the go-ahead from the Office of Fair Trading.

Allied Grain and Banks Cargill Agriculture have merged to form Frontier, which started trading on Monday, Apr 4.

The new firm will have a turnover of more than £750m on sales of grain and arable inputs such as seed and fertiliser, as well as agronomy services.

It is hoped that the merger will generate savings and efficiencies worth £2-3m a year on a balance sheet described as “easily the strongest in the industry”.

“We are delighted to have received this full clearance from the competition authorities,” said David Yiend, Frontier chairman.

“We can now get down to the task of developing Frontier into a business fully focused on the success of UK arable agriculture.

“We believe that this is a sensible and rational development that will help take cost out of the arable food chain, offer progressive and relevant service to our customers and help in the drive to improve connections between farmer and consumer.”

New managing director Mark Aitchison said that farmers would benefit from the company’s financial clout and increased size.

“Frontier is being formed at a watershed time for the industry, with the challenges of CAP reform and the single farm payment.

“Farmers are facing an uncertain future, so it is very good news that this company is being put together, because it shows a long-term commitment that looks well beyond next year.

“It is about making markets more efficient for farmers, and more efficient for the industry as a whole.

“That’s what we’re always being urged to do by the likes of [Sir] Don Curry [chairman of the Sustainable Farming and Food Implementation Group]”

The merger was announced in December, but was routinely referred to the Office of Fair Trading, which has ruled that there are no monopoly concerns.

Mr Aitchison said that the new board would review the company’s structure once the initial changes to the business had had time to bed in.

The board includes: John Thompson as finance director; Jon Duffy – formerly managing director at Gleadell – as grain trading director; Charlie Whitmarsh as arable inputs director; and Kevin Mills and Alistair Knott as northern and southern divisional directors respectively.