The European Commission has said there is enough competition from ADM and Cargill to make Barry Callebaut’s $950m acquisition of Petra Foods’ Ingredients division free from competition concerns.
Barry Callebaut agreed to buy the cocoa processing operations of the Singapore-based firm last December.
After European approval, further regulatory hurdles must be overcome before the deal is finalized.
The Commission said in a statement that “customers would still have sufficient alternative suppliers in all markets concerned and that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of other strong competitors.”
Barry Callebaut will overtake Cargill as the world’s largest cocoa grinder once the acquisition is complete.
After Cargill, the third largest grinder will be ADM followed by Guan Chong and Ecom Cocoa.
Financing the deal
Barry Callebaut announced earlier this week that it would finance part of the $950m deal through $600m senior notes due by 2023 that will be guaranteed by assets.
Petra Foods owns six cocoa processing facilities (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico and Germany) and one cocoa butter facility (France) that will be sold to Barry Callebaut.
Barry Callebaut expects to close the deal in summer 2013.
Sofie De Lathouwer, marketing director, Food Manufacturers Western Europe for Barry Callebaut previously told the site that building new cocoa facilities cost both time and money, while Petra Foods existing facilities offered a ready-made opportunity.
“We see from our side a lot of demand for chocolate [in Asia],” she added.
The Asian cocoa grind, an indicator of demand for chocolate in the region, registered a surprise decline of 10.8% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to last year.
Petra Foods said in its Q1 results that it had been concentrating efforts on its consumer goods division, but told Bloomberg that its cocoa grinding plants were operating as usual.