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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Rio Tinto's talc business by Imerys

Brussels, 8 July 2011 - The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the talc business of the Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto by French-based company Imerys.

After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly alter the structure of the market for talc, the softest known mineral in the world used in a wide range of industrial applications including ceramics, plastics, paper and cosmetics.

Although not presently active in talc, Imerys has a number of industrial minerals, such as kaolin and calcium carbonates, in its portfolio that can be used alongside and/or partially in place of talc in different end-applications. Therefore the Commission examined to what extent some of the minerals in Imerys's portfolio could be treated as substitutes to talc and what would be the potential effects of the proposed acquisition in this scenario.

The Commission's investigation found that the transaction will neither significantly influence the structure of the markets for talc products for the different end-use applications nor affect Imerys's incentive or ability to engage in anticompetitive bundling strategies with talc and other industrial minerals.

The Commission also investigated a vertical relationship arising from the proposed transaction, as talc is an input used by Imerys and others in the manufacture of a type of refractory ceramics known as kiln furniture, which is used to support ceramic components such as roof tiles, sanitary ware and tableware inside the kiln during the firing process. The investigation confirmed that the transaction will not result in the shutting out of competing kiln furniture producers or other suppliers of talc.

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

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 30 May 2011.

Imerys is a multinational group principally active in the extraction and processing of industrial minerals with 240 industrial facilities in 47 countries. Imerys currently has no activities in the production or sale of talc.

The talc business of Rio Tinto, which trades under the Talc de Luzenac name, produces, ships and sells a wide range of talc products from its mines and processing plants in Europe, North and Central America and Asia-Pacific to customers in over 100 countries.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission, in 1989, was given the power to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation). Its duty is to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA)1 or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

A non-confidential version of today's decision will be available at:

Contacts :

Amelia Torres (+32 2 295 46 29)

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)

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