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Tomkins told to sell flour mills

PETER MANDELSON, the Trade and Industry Secretary, yesterday told Tomkins, the handguns-to-Hovis group, to sell four of the six flour mills it bought from Irish food group Kerry in a pounds 92m deal in February.

Mr Mandelson said he accepted the findings of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and the Office of Fair Trading that the purchase "may be expected to operate against the public interest by reducing competition in the supply of free flour and of bread" in the UK. Tomkins said it had pressed regulators to let the purchase proceed, "particularly in view of the buying power of the multiple retailers" and its plans to invest in the mills.