Conditional approval given to McCormick/Unilever deal

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday granted conditional approval of McCormick & Co., Inc.’s acquisition of Unilever P.L.C.’s Lawry’s and Adolph’s branded seasoning blends and marinades business in the United States and Canada.

The terms of the F.T.C. approval require the sale of McCormick’s Season-All business, which McCormick has agreed to sell to the Morton Salt Group of Morton International for $15 million in cash. McCormick’s annual sales of Season-All products are approximately $18 million.

"The U.S. market for seasoned salt products is highly concentrated and the proposed acquisition would significantly increase market concentration by eliminating the substantial competition between McCormick and Lawry’s," said Jeffrey Schmidt, director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Competition. "With Morton taking ownership of the Season-All brand, the Commission is ensuring that vibrant competition in the seasoned salt market will continue."

The conditional approval is subject to a 30-day public comment period, after which the F.T.C. may propose modifications before the approval is made final. McCormick is free to close the acquisition prior to the expiration of the comment period.

McCormick said it expects to complete the acquisition of Lawry’s and sale of Season-All at approximately the same time.

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