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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Air Products Homecare by Linde

Brussels, 18 April 2012 - The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the homecare business of Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (AP) in Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain (Air Products Homecare) by Linde of Germany. Medical homecare consists mainly in supplying oxygen and other therapies to patients in their homes. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly change the existing market situation in the five countries concerned.

Linde and Air Products Homecare provide homecare services in all five countries concerned by the transaction. The Commission's investigation found that the parties' presence is very limited in France. In Germany, Spain and Belgium, a significant number of credible competitors will remain active post transaction and Linde would not be able to raise prices or reduce the quality of its services. For Portugal, the Commission took into account the upcoming new national tender for medical homecare announced by the Portuguese authority and considered that a number of credible competitors remaining post-merger will ensure sufficient competition on the markets. The Commission therefore concluded that the parties' overlapping activities would not give rise to competition concerns in any of the countries concerned.

The transaction also gives rise to a vertical relationship between the upstream market for the provision of medical oxygen and the downstream market of oxygen therapy in Belgium, France and Germany. However Linde has a limited market presence in the wholesale supply of medical oxygen in Germany. In France, Linde has a relatively strong position in wholesale supply of medical oxygen but the combined entity has a small presence in the provision of oxygen therapies. In Belgium, as in Germany and France, the transaction would moreover create an additional supplier, AP, since after the transaction it would not be vertically integrated anymore and would be free to supply other homecare suppliers than APH with oxygen.

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 24 February 2012.

Background on companies and products

Linde supplies industrial and medical gases, equipment, engineering and homecare services. APH provides patients with respiratory treatments and related services at patients’ homes.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA 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).

More information on the case is available at:

Contacts :

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)

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