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EU opens in-depth probe into Mondelez, DE Master Blenders coffee merger

The logo of Mondelez International is pictured at the company's building in Zurich November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators opened an extensive investigation into a proposal by Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ.O) and competitor D.E Master Blenders 1753 to combine their coffee businesses, concerned this may reduce competition.

The companies are aiming to bring together Mondelez's grocery coffee brands such as Carte Noire and Gevalia and D.E Master Blenders' L'Or, Pilao and Senseo brands under one roof in a new Dutch-based company to be called Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

The European Commission said concessions offered by the companies earlier this month to ease competition concerns and which were subsequently market tested were insufficient.

"This (deal) would significantly reduce competition for roast and ground coffee in France, Denmark and Latvia, as well as for filter pads in France and Austria," the EU competition enforcer said in a statement.

It will now decide on the deal by May 6.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)