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EU approves Procter & Gamble's Sara Lee acquisition

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Sara Lee Air Care business by Procter & Gamble, both of the US.

After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Procter & Gamble is a company specialized in the development, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of household care, beauty care and health care among other consumer products. Sara Lee Air Care manufactures and markets various types of air fresheners.

The transaction did not initially qualify for the EU's one-stop shop review because the merging parties do not meet the turnover threshold of the Merger Regulation, but the national competition authorities of Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the UK asked the Commission to examine the impact of the proposed transaction on their territories. The case was notified to the Commission for regulatory clearance on 10 May 2010.

The Commission examined the effects of the acquisition within the home air freshener market, in particular as regards electrical air fresheners, where the parties would achieve relatively high combined market shares in Belgium and the UK. In addition, the Commission investigated if the proposed transaction would eliminate a potential competitor in car fresheners or fabric fresheners. The Commission's investigation found that the combined firm will continue to face several strong, effective competitors with significant market shares. Consequently, the transaction does not give rise to competition concerns.

Separately, the Commission is also examining the proposed acquisition of the Sara Lee Body Care division by Unilever. The deadline for the second-phase decision is 5 October 2010. The two procedures are independent of each other.

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