WASHINGTON--Sara Lee Corp. got an expensive reminder that it better tell the government if it plans a significant acquisition in one of its fields.
The company has agreed to pay a civil fine of $3.1 million to settle federal charges the company failed to secure government antitrust approval before acquiring the assets of its major competitor in the shoe-care business.
Sara Lee, the parent company of Kiwi Brands Inc., in 1991 bought Reckitt & Colman, a London-based company. Under antitrust law, Sara Lee was required to notify the Federal Trade Commission or Justice Department of the merger since Reckitt & Colman's U.S. assets were valued at more than $15 million.
In a previous action, the FTC required Sara Lee to divest some of its shoe product assets because the agency ruled the merger would lead to higher prices in the shoe products industry.

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