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Brussels, 22 December 2010

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into SC Johnson's acquisition of Sara Lee's household insect control business

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition of the global household insect control business of Sara Lee by SC Johnson of the US. The Commission's initial market investigation indicated potential competition concerns with respect to the supply of household insecticide products in Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Greece, where the parties' activities show significant overlaps. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 12 May 2011, to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or a substantial part of it. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation.

The proposed transaction would combine two leading suppliers of household insecticides active in Europe with brands like Raid, Baygon, Catch, Vapona, Pyrel, Cruz Verde, Cucal and Bloom. Both suppliers have a strong presence on the markets for all types of insecticide products (flying insect killers, crawling insect killers and anti-moth products) and have substantial overlapping activities in Spain, France, Belgium, Greece and the Czech Republic. Their household insecticide brands compete closely with each other in these countries, where the removal of an important competitor may lead to increased prices and less choice for customers.

Remedies proposed by SC Johnson did not remove the Commission's concerns as regards the effects of the proposed transaction.

SC Johnson manufactures and distributes household products, including cleaning products, air care products and household insect control products. It is one of the leading household insecticides players in the EEA.

Sara Lee is a worldwide supplier of branded consumer goods, operating primarily in the meats, bakery and beverage sectors. It is one of the major household insecticides players in the EEA.

The transaction did not originally qualify for review under the EU Merger Regulation as it does not meet the turnover thresholds. Instead it was notified to the Spanish and Portuguese competition authorities for approval. The Spanish competition authority requested that the review be transferred to the Commission and the Belgian, French, Italian, Czech and Greek competition authorities joined the request. The transaction is also being examined by the Portuguese competition authority, which decided not to join the Spanish referral request.

More information on the case will be available at:

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