Two Irish dairy processing co-operatives have been given the go-ahead for a cross-border merger.
Lakeland Dairies Co-operative Society Limited and LacPatrick Co-operative Society Limited have welcomed approval from both Irish and UK regulators.
The British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Ireland's Competition and Consumer Protection Commission have both given the deal the green light.
Both authorities determined and ruled that competition would not be adversely affected as a result of the merger.
The CMA had launched an inquiry into the merger last month.
The new society will begin trading at the end of March.
In October 2018, the Lakeland and LacPatrick shareholders voted 97% and 96% respectively in favour of forming one of the largest dairy processors in Europe.
The new society is to be called Lakeland Dairies Co-Operative Society Limited.
It will be the second largest dairy processor on the island of Ireland with a cross-border milk pool of 1.8bn litres, produced by 3,200 farms from 15 counties.
The new co-op will also have a combined annual turnover in excess of €1bn.
Alo Duffy, chairman of Lakeland Dairies, 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."
While Andrew McConkey, chairman of LacPatrick Dairies, added: "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."
Lakeland was set up in 1990 through the merger of Killeshandra Co-operative and Lough Egish Co-operative.
It is a farmer-owned dairy processing co-operative with operations across 15 counties on a cross-border basis.
LacPatrick was established in 2015 following the merger of Ballyrashane Co-op and Town of Monaghan Co-op.
It has 848 milk suppliers and currently processes approximately 600 million litres of milk annually.
Main image: Lakeland's milk powder plant at Bailieboro, Co Cavan | Image: Supplied