Milk Link has taken full control of The Cheese Company by buying out Glanbia's 25% stake for £47.2m. The 2,000-member dairy co-op claims it is now the biggest cheese producer in the UK.

The deal will enable Milk Link to take full control of the strategic direction and earnings of The Cheese Company and pay its members processing profits for the first time since buying a 75% share in April 2004. Profit for the year ending in April 2006 reached £5.6m, turning round the previous year's loss.

"That has been achieved by ensuring we have the right products in the right markets at the right prices," said Barry Nicholls, CEO of Milk Link. "We will continue to add value in NPD and new branding and in terms of adding elements such as new convenience and packaging formats."

He said the deal would not cost members any more than the 0.5ppl capital levy they already pay.

In fact, the financial burden had fallen because the deal saw £35m of Glanbia's debt repaid.

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