The EU has cleared Groupe Danone's acquisition of Dutch nutrition firm Royal Numico after the two companies agreed to sell a raft of businesses.

The European Commission said today (31 October) that it has given the green light to the EUR12.3bn (US$17.8bn) deal, which was first agreed in July.

Numico must sell its baby milk and baby drink businesses in France, while Danone must offload its baby meal and baby snacks businesses in the Netherlands and Belgium. Danone must also sell its baby milk and baby drink operations in Belgium.

The Commission said it had held "serious doubts" about how the deal would affect competition in those categories in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Commission's investigation claimed, for instance, that, as an independent company, Numico was playing an important role in keeping the French market for infant milk competitive.

However, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "In view of the remedies offered, I am satisfied that competition will remain vigorous after the merger and that parents will continue to benefit from innovation and fair prices to feed their babies and toddlers."