Heinz insists it is keeping the Champagne on ice despite receiving provisional approval for its £470m buyout of HP Foods.
The Competition Commission ruled that the deal, which was announced last August and includes brands such as Lea & Perrins and HP Sauces, was not expected to result in substantial lessening of competition or an increase in prices.
However, despite the provisional clearance, Michael Mullen, Heinz’s director of corporate affairs, said it would continue to run the businesses as separate units until final clearance was granted.
Mullen added that Heinz remained confident that the acquisition would meet the criteria for final clearance.
The Commission is expected to issue its final report on the deal by April 11 and is inviting interested parties to respond to its provisional findings.
Meanwhile, Heinz has sold its European seafood business to Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking for E425m.
Heinz said the deal, which is subject to approval from the European competition authorities, would be completed by the end of next month.

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