August 19, 2010 / 8:51 PM / 7 years ago

Unilever receives EU objections over Sara Lee deal

* EU has competition concerns over proposed deal

* Unilever previously declined to make concessions

* Company has two weeks to reply to EU objections

AMSTERDAM, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever (UNc.AS)(ULVR.L) said on Thursday it had been sent a statement of objections from the European Commission over its bid for Sara Lee Corp’s SLE.N body care business.

European Union regulators extended their probe into the $1.3 billion deal in June after Unilever declined to offer concessions to address competition worries, extending the deadline for a decision until Oct. 5 from May 31.

“We have received the statement of objections from the European Commission and we remain confident that a positive agreement can be concluded in the fourth quarter of 2010,” Unilever said in an emailed statement.

Unilever, which makes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Knorr soup and Dove soap, declined to comment on the content of the EU’s statement.

The Commission said in June an initial investigation raised potential competition concerns about several product markets such as deodorants, skin cleansing and fabric care products.

Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres declined to comment on Thursday, but added that Oct. 5 remains the deadline for a decision.

Unilever had previously said it expected the deal to be completed in the 2010 fourth quarter, later than its previous estimate of a third-quarter close.

Companies usually have about two weeks to reply to a statement of objections and receiving such a statement does not necessarily mean the deal will not be approved, although some divestments might be required to gain approval.

Dutch personal navigation device TomTom (TOM2.AS) was also sent a statement of objections in 2008 over its bid for Dutch mapmaker Tele Atlas, but the EU eventually approved that deal. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Richard Chang)

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