The UK's competition watchdog has provisionally cleared German food giant Dr Oetker's deal to buy the European operations of fellow pizza maker The Schwan Food Co., just-food can reveal.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) told just-food today (17 March) that it had received "initial undertakings" from Dr Oetker that the company would keep its UK business separate from Schwan's operations in the country prior to the deal closing, when further investigation may take place.

The deal, signed in December, will bring together two of the best-selling pizza brands in the UK - Dr Oetker's Ristorante and Schwan's Chicago Town.

There had been questions marks over the deal due to fears that a company owning Ristorante and Chicago Town would command too big a share of the UK pizza market.

However, in an OFT document seen by just-food, executives from Dr Oetker in Germany and the UK have signed an undertaking to keep the Schwan business going separately from the German group's UK business. 

"The Schwan's business and the Dr Oetker UK business have each been maintained as a going concern and sufficient resources have been made available for the development of the Schwan's business and the Dr. Oetker UK business on the basis of their respective pre-merger business plans," said an undertaking signed by Dr Oetker director Peter Junger.

An OFT spokesperson added: "We have requested these initial undertakings to address any concerns the OFT may have while the acquisition is taking place. Further investigation of the transaction will take place once this has happened."

Officials at Schwan and Dr Oetker could not be reached for immediate comment.