A DEAL which saw a Bury chemicals firm merge with a US rival has been finally scotched by competition chiefs.

Ecolab acquired Holchem, which makes formulated cleaning products, in November 2018.

But an inquiry was ordered by the Competition and Markets Authority, on the basis it would reduce choice for customers in the market.

Last October the CMA blocked the arrangement but Ecolab and Holchem took their case to the Competition Appeals Tribunal. One option outlined by Ecolab was the potential transfer of a portfolio of customers to third parties.

But this was rejected by the tribunal and the sale of Holchem, as stipulated, must now go ahead.

In their ruling Mr Justice Roth, sitting with Sir Iain McMillan and Prof Michael Waterson, said that the deal "would remove a significant competitive constraint in the supply to UK-only customers" and give rise to a lessening of competition in the market.

A spokesman for the Bury firm said: "Holchem will continue to be run as a stand-alone entity by the current management team, each member of which has been in place for the entire period of Ecolab’s ownership.

"Everyone at Holchem looks forward to continuing the great work we have been doing with all of our customers and suppliers."