8 October 1999

Irish meat processing baron regains control

BEEF baron Larry Goodman has regained sole control of his meat processing empire, just nine years after it collapsed with bank debts of more than I£500m.

In a remarkable comeback, he has bought out the other shareholders in Irish Food Processors to gain 100% control of the largest beef exporting group in Europe, with 24 plants in Ireland and the UK.

The deal, which is estimated to have cost Mr Goodman around I£70m for the outstanding 55% share, has been officially approved by the Irish Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

In the UK, the group trades as ABP Ltd with six plants in England and three north of the border. There are also three plants in Northern Ireland and one in Jersey.

A spokesman in Dublin said the group exports more than I£700m worth of Irish beef annually to more than 30 countries. "Marketing is Mr Goodmans strong point, and he will be pushing British beef very vigorously, in both the home and overseas markets."

The collapse of the Goodman International empire in the summer of 1990, mainly because of losses due to the war in Iraq, was one of the biggest financial crises to hit Irish agriculture and the economy. Irish Food Processors was created as part of the company restructuring.

Investors assembled by Mr Goodman bought 65% of Goodman International from the groups creditor banks for I£40m, with the banks writing off some I£300m of the debt. Mr Goodman started off with a 35% stake in the group.

As sole shareholder, he will continue to act as the groups chief executive. "My commitment over the next five years will be to grow the business," he says. &#42