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EU extends its review of P&G's buy of Gillette

BRUSSELS -- European Union antitrust regulators said yesterday they have extended the deadline for an initial review of Procter & Gamble Co.'s $57 billion takeover of Gillette Co., to July 15 to examine the possibility that certain business units would be divested.

Officials at the EU head office said they received a proposal to ensure the takeover does not cause competition concerns on the European market.

The EU had set a July 1 preliminary deadline for its review of the deal. However, if it finds it needs further study of the deal over competition concerns, it could launch a deeper probe lasting for three months. During the initial review, P&G and Gillette competitors can file competition complaints over the deal.

The two companies are planning to sell some of their overlapping tooth care product lines, according to media reports last week. These plans amount to small divestitures and could include P&G's Crest toothpaste brand and Gillette's Oral B dental product line.

However, for the most part, Cincinnati-based P&G -- maker of Pampers diapers and Tide detergent -- has limited product overlaps with Boston-based Gillette's disposable razors and Duracell batteries.

The two firms have not revealed any plans to divest business units as a result of the takeover.

''Talks have been amicable and constructive," said P&G spokeswoman Linda Ulrey. ''In terms of any specific things we're talking about with the committee, there's nothing more to be said about providing details other than we will continue to work with them and answer any questions they have."

Gillette spokesman Eric Kraus declined to comment on the deadline extension.

The two consumer product giants hope to get regulatory clearance in both the United States and the EU, and shareholder approval before this fall.

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