The UK's competition watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading, has focused its regulatory eye on the proposed purchase of HP Foods by US giant H J Heinz.

The £470 million ($842m; €682m) deal with HP owner, the French Groupe Danone, would see Heinz spice up its sauces brands, adding HP Sauce, Daddies, Amoy and Lea & Perrins.

The OFT investigation is usual in deals that result in new companies which generate a turnover of more than £70m or supply more than 25% of the goods and services for the UK market. The Heinz/HP merger is expected to be given the nod next month.

Heinz' fifty-strong UK marketing team hopes the go-ahead will finally shed light on their future, following the company's decision to suspend its £7.8m UK print and TV consumer advertising pending the ingestion of HP [WAMN: 21-Jul-05].

The budget freeze, which led to the resignation of Scott Garrett, UK vp of brands, is expected to last until May 2006.

Data sourced from mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff