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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Belgian insurer Nateus by Bâloise of Switzerland

Brussels, 03 August 2011 - The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of insurance company Nateus of Belgium by rival Bâloise of Switzerland.

The parties' activities overlap in particular with regard to the provision of transport insurance in Belgium. The Commission's examination showed that their combined market shares in this market were moderate and that a range of other insurance companies will competitively constrain the merged company.

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

Bâloise is a publicly listed provider of insurance and pension solutions headquartered in Switzerland. Bâloise provides insurance and banking services in Switzerland and life and non-life insurance services in several European countries, including Belgium. Nateus is a subsidiary of the Belgian insurance group Ethias. Nateus offers life and non-life insurance in Belgium.

The merger derives from a state aid investigation into the restructuring of Ethias in the context of the financial crisis (see SA.28476) and, in particular, from Ethias’ commitment to sell its participation in the Nateus Group, as part of its restructuring plan. Today's decision under the Merger Regulation is without prejudice to the relevant state aid obligations pursuant to the state aid decision of 20 May 2011 (see IP/10/592).

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 28 June 2011.

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)

Maria Madrid Pina (+32 2 295 45 30)

1 :

The EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

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