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Air Liquide / BOC

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This related to a proposced acquisition by L'Air Liquide SA (Air Liquide) of parts of The BOC Group plc (BOC). Air Liquide is the largest producer and distributor of industrial gases (based on turnover) and BOC is the second largest producer and distributor of industrial gases (based on turnover).

Robert Pitofsky (when Chairman of FTC) described the different outcomes in the US and EU as follows:

in Air Liquide/BOC, the second and third largest companies in several fairly concentrated product markets in the U.S. chose to acquire the fourth (BOC) and divide it up among the two acquirers or, where that was not feasible, to sell off to a new entrant. The principal remedial arrangements necessary in Europe were focused on restoring competition in the British Isles. In the United States, the problems arose in dozens of regional markets across the continent. The EC, after considerable analysis and effort, was able to clear the transaction subject to substantial conditions; in the United States, however, the restructuring proposed by the parties was unlikely to restore competition to the status quo ante and therefore the deal was likely to be challenged. The parties thereupon decided not to pursue their bid for BOC.' (see EU and U.S. Approaches to International Mergers - Views from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (EC Merger Control 10th Anniversary Conference, The European Commission Directorate General for Competition, International Bar Association, 14-15 September 20000))


European Commission

Not opposed (with commitments)


Notification occurred on 16 August 1999 and the Commission initiated proceedings on 16 September 1999.


Not opposed. Commitments given by the parties would 'eliminate the risk that on-going links between Air Liquide and Air Products will contribute to the creation or strengthening of dominant positions by Air Liquide/BOC in the tonnage, bulk and cylinder markets and the creation of collective dominant positions by Air Liquide/BOC and Air Products in the markets for wholesale helium and electronic speciality gases' (page 70)

View decision


See merger.data.net page on the EC decision


United States