Europe raises objections to Unilever buying Sara Lee


Potential market competition problems could scupper personal care acquisition

The European Commission has notified Unilever of objections to its acquisition of the personal care and deodorant business of the Sara Lee group.

Unilever was understood to be expecting to complete the acquisition by the end of this year but in June the European competition authority opened an in-depth investigation, arguing initially that the acquisition could lead to serious problems of market competition in this segment, given that Unilever already marketed the Dove, Axe, Lux and Sunsilk ranges. Sara Lee markets Sanex deodorants, the Monsavon range and Williams shaving products.

Unilever has two weeks in which to respond to the notification. The sale of the body care products sector of Sara Lee to Unilever for about €1.3bn was announced in September 2009.