Princes has been ordered to offload the Fray Bentos brand by the Office of Fair Trading, following its £182m swoop for Premier Foods' canned business.

The competition watchdog said Princes would have to find a buyer for Fray Bentos following the acquisition, as the proposed deal could lead to a monopoly in canned pies.

But it admitted that Princes could struggle to find a buyer for the unfashionable brand.

“Given that there may be a restricted number of purchasers able to acquire the divestment package, the divestment undertaking will be the subject of an upfront buyer requirement,” the watchdog said.

“The OFT will assess the suitability of any proposed purchaser before deciding whether to accept the undertakings offered by the parties.”

OFT chief economist Amelia Fletcher said the body was concerned consumers would “be left with extremely limited choices in relation to [canned pies], as well as unwelcome price rises” if the deal went through without the Fray Bentos sale.

She added: “The parties have offered to divest the Fray Bentos brand along with manufacturing assets. The OFT generally requires remedies to be clear–cut and capable of being readily implementable. The proposed remedy appears to achieve both these aims.”

Princes' approach for the canned business of Premier was first announced in February. The deal is now expected to complete in July.

Read more
Exit Schofield: now the City awaits a recovery strategy (7 May 2011)
Princes takes canned business off Premier’s hands (8 February 2011)