Brussels clears Unilever purchase of Sara Lee household and body care

But Sanex brand must be sold off to maintain competition

The European Commission has approved the takeover by Unilever of Sara Lee’s body and laundry care businesses, on condition it sells off the US company’s Sanex brand and related business in Europe.

Following an inquiry as the EU’s lead competition authority, Brussels concluded there were particular concerns regarding Unilever’s future dominance of some EU deodorant markets. This would follow the combining of brands such as Sanex with Dove and Rexona “which presently compete against each other,” said the Commission. This would “raise competition concerns in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, Ireland, Spain and Portugal where it would remove an important competitive force,” probably inflating prices, it added.

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