The European Commission is to investigate a decision by health-technology company Illumina to complete its acquisition of GRAIL, a company that develops cancer-detection tests.
Last month, the commission opened a competition investigation into the deal, saying it was concerned that it might reduce competition and innovation in the market for the development of cancer-detection tests based on sequencing technologies.
Earlier this week, however, Illumina said that it had completed the purchase, but would hold GRAIL as a separate company during the commission's review.
The US company said that the EU verdict was not expected until after the 20 December expiry date for the deal.
Illumina had already started legal proceedings, arguing that the EU did not have jurisdiction to review the merger.
The commission said today (20 August) that it was looking at whether Illumina's decision to go ahead with the acquisition, while a competition probe was continuing, amounted to a breach of the ‘standstill obligation’ under article 7 of the Merger Regulation.
This process will be separate from the continuing investigation into the competition implications of the deal.
'Companies must wait'
Margrethe Vestager (European Commission executive vice-president, pictured) said that companies had to respect the EU’s competition rules and procedures.
“Companies must wait for our approval before a transaction can go ahead. This obligation, that we call standstill obligation, is at the heart of our merger-control system and we take its possible breaches very seriously,” she added.
The commission also said that the two companies had not yet provided it with the information it had requested to assess the deal.