EU clears ABF to buy Spain sugar arm of Ebro Puleva

BRUSSELS, March 31 Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:15am BST

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BRUSSELS, March 31 (Reuters) - Associated British Foods received permission on Tuesday from European Union regulators to buy the Spanish sugar arm of foods group Ebro Puleva in a deal worth 385 million euros ($510 million).

The European Commission, which monitors competition in the 27-nation bloc, said in a statement that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EU region.

ABF said in December that the deal to buy Azucarera Ebro, which supplies half of the 1.6 million tonnes of sugar consumed in Iberia, would likely be completed early this year and would enhance its earnings by 2010.

Ebro Puleva put its sugar business up for sale in May 2008 as European sugar refiners embarked on a wave of consolidation following European Union sugar subsidy reforms in 2006. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Dale Hudson)

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