Citrovita and Citrosuco of Brazil won European Union antitrust approval for their merger plan to form the world’s largest wholesale supplier of orange juice.
The European Commission “is satisfied that there will remain sufficient competition and that European consumers will not be negatively impacted”, Joaquin Almunia the EU competition commissioner, said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.
Citrovita, controlled by Sao Paulo-based Votorantim Participacoes SA, and Citrosuco, controlled by Matao, Brazil- based Grupo Fischer, said last May they would merge.
European regulators opened an in-depth probe in January when they said the deal may raise competition problems because the merged company would have a “strong” market position for by-products such as orange oils and essences.
Wednesday’s decision “represents an important step in the process to create the new company” Citrovita and Citrosuco said in an e-mailed joint statement. “However, the completion of the merger process still requires the approval of the Brazilian antitrust agency”.
The antitrust arm of Brazil’s finance ministry, known as SEAE, has already recommended that regulator Cade approve the deal without conditions.
Citrosuco and Citrovita own six processing plants in Brazil, one in Florida and eight port terminals in Brazil, Europe and Asia.