Shareholders at Glanbia Co-op have voted in favour of a deal that will see it take full ownership of the country's largest dairy company, Glanbia Ireland.

The decision, backed by 80% of the 4,000 shareholders who voted, was made at a virtual special general meeting of the Co-op earlier today.

The Co-op will now pay €307m to buy the 40% of Glanbia Ireland that is owned by Glanbia plc, giving it complete ownership of the joint venture.

The transaction will be funded through existing cash and debt facilities.

"I’m delighted that shareholders have voted firmly in favour of this exciting development for our farmers," said John Murphy, Glanbia Co-op chairman.

"It is an historic milestone in the evolution of our Co-op, which has delivered for our farmer members for over a century."

"We firmly believe that 100% ownership of the world-class processing assets closest to our farmers’ interests is the right model for the future."

Last year Glanbia Ireland had revenues of €1.9 billion and a profit after tax of €61 million.

Shareholders of the Co-op also approved plans to spin-out 12 million Glanbia plc shares, currently worth around €149m, to all members of the society next year.

Mr Murphy said this would result in some of the value of the Co-op’s stake in the plc being returned to members.

The creation of an investment fund, a Member Distribution Reserve and changes to the governance of the Co-op were also approved by those who voted.

Changes to the governance of the Co-op were also backed by the shareholders.

The amendments will see the chair elected every two years, while it will also be possible to add executive and non-executive directors to the board.

"The Board's motivation for making these proposals was very simple – we want to pay the best possible price for milk and grain to farmers," said Mr Murphy.

"These proposals allow us greater flexibility to support our farmers into the future."

"Most importantly, our Co-op will have 100% ownership of our processing facilities and will be run to pure Co-op principles. It will maintain strong financial discipline and governance, and be led by an experienced leadership team and Board."

The plan is still subject to approval of shareholders of Glanbia plc with an extraordinary general meeting expected to take place early next year.

If it is approved the deal is expected to complete before the middle of the year.

Glanbia Co-Op and Glanbia Ireland will have to change their names if the deal goes through, with Glanbia plc retaining its name.