The European Union has launched a top-level probe into Promatech SpA's proposed acquisition of Sulzer Textil - a deal that would create the world's largest textile machinery company.

The investigation, which is expected to take four months to complete, follows concern from competition chiefs in seven European countries, including France, Germany and the UK.

Financial terms of the deal between Sulzer Textil, a unit of Swiss industrial group Sulzer AG, and Promatech, owned by Italy's Itema Group, have not been released. But the acquisition would see Itema have a presence in more than 90 countries.

"This is the first time in almost 11 years that member states have used the provisions available in the merger regulation to make a joint referral to the Commission rather than examining the case separately," the Brussels-based commission said in a statement.

"After a one-month review, the Commission has decided to launch a detailed investigation to investigate further the competitive impact of the transaction on, inter alia, the market for 'rapier' weaving machines, which appear to be a flexible type of weaving machines used for a range of fabric making, also adequate for high-quality clothing."