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Brussels, 10 August 1999

Commission clears joint venture in the artists' materials sector

The European Commission has approved the acquisition of joint control of ColArt International Holdings Limited (CIH) by AB Lindengruppen and HSBC holding plc. CIH was previously controlled by Linden alone. The operation creates no overlap because neither HSBC nor Linden will have other activities in the same markets as CIH, namely artists' materials.

HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations trading under names such as Hang-Seng Bank, Hongkong Shanghai Bank, Midland Bank. Linden is based in Sweden. Its major industrial interest is its 100% holding in AB Wilhelm Becker and its subsidiaries. Becker controls a number of subsidiaries active in the sector of coatings and paintings including CIH, wholly owned and specialising in artists' materials. The notified agreements provide for CIH and its subsidiaries to move from sole control of Linden to joint control by HSBC, a number of investors, and by Linden.

CIH is a supplier of art materials to professional and amateur artists and to art students. Its product range includes oil colours, gouache, acrylic and water colours as well as colours for application on surfaces such as ceramics, glass and silk and other products. HSBC has no activities in the same markets as CIH. Linden has no other interests in the business of providing artists' materials.

Consequently, the proposed concentration does not create or strengthen a dominant position likely to significantly impair effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of that area. Thus, the Commission has decided to authorise the operation and to declare it compatible with the common market and with the EEA Agreement.

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