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Brussels, 27 July 2001

Commission clears Finnish Sampo Oyj's take-over of Norwegian Storebrand ASA

The Commission has given the go-ahead for the Finnish financial group Sampo Oyj ("Sampo") to acquire control of the Norwegian banking and insurance group Storebrand ASA ("Storebrand"). As a result of the merger, Sampo also replaces Storebrand in the Swedish insurance company If Skadeförsäkring Holding AB (publ) ("If P&C"). The Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction will not lead to competition concerns in any of the markets where the parties are active.

Sampo Plc is a Finnish full-service financial group providing banking, insurance and investment services to its customers principally in Finland. Storebrand ASA and the members of the Storebrand group offer financial services in the areas of life insurance, banking and through If P&C Skadeförsäkring Holding Ab ("If P&C"), non-life insurance. If P&C is a joint venture jointly owned by Storebrand and the Swedish Försäkringsaktiebolaget Skandia AB ("Skandia"). The non-life insurance business of Storebrand was transferred to If P&C in 1999.

Sampo notified on 26 June 2001 its intention to acquire control over the Storebrand group through a public bid. Conditional upon the successful completion of the acquisition of Storebrand, Sampo is to transfer its property and casualty business to If P&C. As a result, Sampo will jointly control If P&C with Försäkringsbolaget Skandia AB ("Skandia").

After assessing the impact of the proposed acquisition on a number of insurance and banking markets in the Nordic countries, the Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction will neither create nor strengthen any dominant positions on any markets in which the parties are active.

The only markets in which the proposed transaction leads to overlaps between the activities of Storebrand (including If P&C) and Sampo creating market shares above 15% are in non-life insurances markets. However, the investigation had showed that on these markets the new entity will continue to face a number of important competitors, both on the national and international side of the businesses.

In the context of the proposed concentration it has been brought to the attention of the Commission that the Norwegian Government may withhold the authorisation of Sampo to acquire between 50 to 100 per cent of Storebrand. Although no formal decision has yet been taken by the Norwegian authorities the Commission will closely monitor the compatibility with Community law and the EEA Agreement of any future measures taken in the context of the present operation.

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