Baxters Fray Bentos acquisition cleared

Fray Bentos products Baxters has bought the Fray Bentos business and for an undisclosed sum

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An Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ruling has cleared the way for Scottish food group Baxters to complete its acquisition of household brand Fray Bentos from Princes Limited.

Princes agreed to sell the brand last month to address competition concerns raised by its merger with the canning business of Premier Foods.

The OFT found Baxters was a "suitable purchaser" of the business.

It said the Princes merger would not be referred to the Competition Commission.

The Moray-based firm bought the business and brand for an undisclosed sum in November.

The OFT said it had carefully assessed and consulted publicly on Princes' undertakings, as well as on the suitability of Baxters as a purchaser.

OFT chief economist Amelia Fletcher said: "This merger would have led to a near-monopoly in the provision of canned pies in the UK.

"However, the sale of the Fray Bentos brand to Baxters will restore pre-merger levels of competition for the benefit of consumers.

"The OFT believes that Baxters, with its extensive experience in the sector, is a suitable purchaser for the business."

Manufacturing of Fray Bentos products will transfer over the next year from Long Sutton in East Anglia to Baxters' production facility in Fochabers.

Fray Bentos, which was launched in 1899, is best known for its range of canned meat pies, including steak and kidney and minced beef and onion.

Baxters produces a range of premium food products, including soups, savoury sauces, sour pickles, sweet sauces, preserves and salad accompaniments.

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