THE Dutch owner of Malton bacon factory has sold its UK pork business to its existing management team securing about 4,000 jobs.

Seamus Carr, managing director of VION’s Pork Business Unit, backed by UK private equity firm Endless, has reached an agreement with VION NV for a management buy-out, subject to Competition Authority approval in Ireland.

VION NV announced last month it was selling its UK food operations, which employs 13,000 people at 38 sites, to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business.

The Malton factory, based at Hugden Way, Norton, is Ryedale's biggest employer, employing 1,600 people.

A spokesman for the business said it was too early to talk about the future of individual sites, but for now it would be business as usual.

Discussions continue with a number of possible buyers for VION’s poultry and red meat business in the UK.

Mr Carr, who will be managing director of the new company, said: “VION’s decision to sell its UK business naturally caused a degree of uncertainty amongst staff, suppliers and customers.

“Therefore, I’m very pleased that we have quickly been able to agree a deal for the pork business which secures the future for our staff, our suppliers and gives our customers a seamless transition.

“Our ambitions for the new business are firstly to maintain the excellent levels of service and product quality which have helped us secure orders from all the major supermarkets and then to build upon the opportunities in the marketplace to grow the business.”

Peter Barr, chairman of VION UK, warmly welcomed the management buy-out. He said: “This is the very best outcome and I am sure the response from everyone involved, from our farmers and suppliers, to our employees and customers, will be extremely positive.

“We will now be focussing our attentions on securing the sales of our remaining poultry and red meat operations in the UK, which employ around 8,000 people. Both businesses remain profitable and cash-generative and are generating significant interest from prospective purchasers.”