By John S. McClenahen Now that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has given its approval to the deal, Switzerland-based Nestl SA expects to complete its acquisition of Ralston Purina Co., St. Louis, by Dec. 31. Nestl proposed the acquisition, the largest in its history, on Jan. 16, 2001. Nestl will acquire Ralston Purina shares at US$33.50 per share in cash. Nestl puts the value of the deal at $10.3 billion. "Combining Ralston Purina's and Nestl's R&D, technology and marketing know-how ensure even more competitiveness in the world's most important pet-care market, giving Nestl a solid base for long-term shareholder value creation," says Nestl CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe. Nestl expects operating savings of $260 million from the acquisition to be achieved by year-end 2003. The merged operations will be known as Nestl Purina PetCare Co. and will be based in St. Louis.