EU opens in-depth probe into Unilever and Sara Lee deal

BRUSSELS Tue Jun 1, 2010 2:49am EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Tuesday it had opened an in-depth investigation into the $1.3 billion bid by Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever's (ULVR.L) for Sara Lee Corp's SLE.N personal care brands.

The Commission, the competition watchdog of the 27-nation European Union, said an initial investigation had revealed potential competition concerns on several product markets.

"This merger creates significant overlaps in a number of products used by consumers on an everyday basis. We need to make sure that if there are competition concerns these are duly addressed," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

The EU regulator said the decision to open an in-depth inquiry did not prejudge the final result of the investigation, and it now has until October 5 to decide on the case.

(Reporting by Bate Felix)

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