Following weeks of speculation, Vion NV has today confirmed an agreement for a management buyout of its UK pork operations.
The deal, which is subject to Competition Authority approval in Ireland, will secure 4,000 jobs and is led by the managing director of Vion's pork business unit Seamus Carr and backed by UK private equity firm Endless.
The news comes less than a month after the company announced its intention to exit the UK and sell all of its 38 meat-processing sites which employ more than 13,000 people.
The company said discussions were ongoing with a number of prospective buyers for the poultry and red meat enterprises.
"Vion's decision to sell its UK business naturally caused a degree of uncertainty amongst staff, suppliers and customers," said Mr Carr, who will be managing director of the new company.
"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."
A spokesman from investor Endless said: "We are delighted to have been selected by the management buyout team to support their plans and aspirations for such a strategically important business in the UK food sector, with its focus on local produce at a time when end customers' demands for British sourced food are increasing."
Endless is a specialist investor in UK businesses; previously purchased companies include Crown Paints and the Bathstore.
Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said: "It's 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."
The company would now be focusing on securing the sales of its remaining poultry and red meat operations, which employ around 8,000 people, he said.
See map below for for location of the pork sites, illustrated with red pins:
View Vion UK meat businesses in a larger map
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