General Mills has finally got the thumbs up from the US regulators to acquire Diageo's Pillsbury food division 15 months after the deal was first proposed. The merger doubles the size of General Mills, boosting its annual turnover to $13bn and creating the world's fifth largest packaged food company. The combined stable of brands includes leading international names such as Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Häagen-Dazs, Green Giant, Yoplait and Old El Paso. After months of wrangling with the US Federal Trade Commission, the merger finally went through on a 2:2 vote. A majority against is required to block a deal. As announced in February, General Mills will sell Pillsbury dessert mixes, Hungry Jack potato mixes and its own US Robin Hood flour business to International Multifoods to satisfy regulatory concerns. A General Mills spokesman said: "We cannot comment on plans for the future as we have not yet closed the deal." The stumbling block for commissioners was understood to be General Mills' plan to retain the trademark on the Pillsbury Doughboy and license the trademark rights to International Multifoods ­ a plan some regulators felt would confuse consumers. Commissioner Mozelle Thompson said splitting the Pillsbury brand would "tear the arms and legs off the doughboy," and questioned International Multifoods' ability to keep the brand successful. "It appeared to me that in trying to find a potential buyer that they tried to find one that was weak," said Thompson. Commissioners Orson Swindle and Thomas Leary described the deal as mosty, "competitively benign". {{NEWS }}