The European Commission has announced that it has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control by French retailer Auchan of the food business of joint venture La Rinascente, which Auchan currently jointly controls with the Italian IFIL group.

Auchan is active in France and in other EU and non-EU countries, but is absent from Italy except through its joint venture with IFIL. La Rinascente is active in Italy in various retail markets: supermarket consumer goods, DIY, decorating and gardening articles, textile products and management and leasing of commercial real estate in shopping centres.

The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure, the Commission said.

Auchan announced in November that it would buy IFIL's share in Rinascente's Società Italiana Distribuzione Moderna for approximately €1.06bn (US$1.42bn).

"This transaction strengthens Auchan's presence in Italy, where our first investment was made in 1989. Auchan has a real ambition to increase the performance and to grow in this important country of the European Union. We believe that both the hypermarket and supermarket operations in the food sector and the Italian shopping centres are part of our core business," said Christophe Dubrulle, general manager of Auchan.