The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into Unilever's takeover of the Sara Lee personal care business.

The EC has potential concerns on several product markets, including deodorants, skin cleansing and fabric care.

Under EC rules, the body now has until a period of 90 working days – until 5 October – to decide whether the deal would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area.

“This merger creates significant overlaps in a number of products used by consumers on an everyday basis,” said commission vice president and competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

“We need to make sure that if there are competition concerns these are duly addressed so that consumers are not harmed."

Unilever moved for Sara Lee Household & Body Care last September in a deal worth €1.275bn.

At the time, Unilever chief executive Paul Polman described personal care as a “strategic category and a key growth driver for Unilever”. He said the Sara Lee personal care division offered “significant growth potential and an excellent fit with Unilever's existing business”.

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