Farmer members of Quebec's dairy co-operative giant Agropur and Atlantic Canada's Farmers Co-operative Dairy have voted nearly unanimously in favour of their proposed merger.
The two co-ops held separate special meetings of their memberships Tuesday, at which Agropur and Farmers Dairy members voted 100 per cent and 97 per cent in favour respectively, the companies said Wednesday.
Agropur members, meeting at Boucherville, approved the needed changes to the co-op's bylaws and statutes for the agreement to be finalized, the co-op said.
Business teams from the two co-ops will start work "over the next few weeks" on determining how to merge their operations, they said.
The merger, which also still requires approvals from "the appropriate authorities," was expected to take place by April 2 with a formal "merger of activities" on that date, the co-ops said when they announced their plans last month.
The co-ops didn't specify which authorities must still approve the deal. However, the federal Competition Bureau requires advance notice of proposed transactions when merging companies' Canadian assets and revenues are beyond certain thresholds.
For 2013, the Competition Bureau's thresholds for such notice are $80 million in assets in Canada, or in revenues of the target firm generated in or from Canada, and $400 million in combined Canadian assets or revenues of the parties and their respective affiliates in, from or into Canada.
Agropur's total annual sales in 2012 were $3.655 billion, while Farmers Dairy's recent annual sales have run around $176 million.
Details such as the proposed co-op's name and the future of its brands haven't yet been released, but Farmers Dairy said last month it plans to keep its Farmers and Central Dairies brands active in Atlantic Canada.
Agropur, Farmers Dairy to merge, Feb. 11, 2013