* Expects EC to open phase 2 of approval process
* Now expects to close in Q4, not Q3
(Adds detail, quote, background)
LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - Consumer goods giant Unilever Plc/NV (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) expects the European Commission will take a closer look at its Sara Lee SLE.N unit purchase, delaying the deal to the fourth quarter of 2010.
The Anglo-Dutch maker of Dove soap and Sunsilk shampoo had originally expected the deal for the Sara Lee personal care business, with 750 million euros of annual sales, to close in the third quarter.
Unliever agreed to buy the business last September for 1.3 billion euros ($1.6 billion), and now expects the acquisition will move to Phase 2 of the EC approval process for a more detailed analysis.
Unilever is planning to buy a portfolio of more than 90 brands such as Sanex deodorants and Radox bodywash products in 19 European countries and says the Commission will need more time to look at the acquisition, market by market, than was possible under Phase 1 of the process.
"The deal is on track to be completed in Q4 2010. The Sara Lee personal care and European laundry brands are maintaining strong levels of growth, and Unilever continues to believe the deal will play a significant role in accelerating its growth in Western Europe," Unilever said in a statement on Tuesday.
Around 85 percent of its sales are in Western Europe with the remaining 15 percent in developing markets. (Reporting by David Jones, editing by Will Waterman)