The biggest shock of the year came in the autumn, when arch rivals New Zealand Milk and Arla Foods teamed up to take on Unilever in the yellow fats aisles with the combined brand strength of Lurpak and Anchor. Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble abandoned their partnership, designed to hive off brands into a standalone enterprise, after just seven months, with the terse statement that both parties would "independently pursue opportunities to grow their respective businesses". Meanwhile, more British companies fell under foreign ownership: Perkins was taken private by Dutch bank ABN Amro, Hazlewood was snapped up by Irish ingredients giant Greencore and household favourites Green Giant, Oxo and Batchelors were scooped up by US giants General Mills and Campbell Soup. Meanwhile, in the drinks sector the biggest players battled with the bureaucrats in their efforts to change the shape of their businesses. The opening shots were fired in January when Interbrew was told it could not keep hold of Bass. It fought through the courts but has only been allowed to retain part of it and, 11 months on, still has not found a buyer for the Carling business it must sell. In spite of this, it found time in the summer to acquire the German brewer Becks. Diageo and Pernod Ricard fell foul of the US Federal Trade Commission in their joint effort to acquire Seagram. The deal was supposed to be done by the summer, but the US authorities objected and it now seems dependent on Diageo's sale of Malibu, and there is still no end in sight. {{NEWS }}