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EU measures against US firms are a first

29 Oct 2021 / eu Print

EU measures against US firms are a first

The European Commission has announced several measures in response to a decision earlier this year by health-technology company Illumina to complete its acquisition of GRAIL, a company that develops cancer-detection tests.

The commission had opened a competition investigation into the deal in July, but a month later Illumina announced that it had decided to go ahead with the takeover before the EU verdict.

This is the first time such measures have been adopted, with the EU body describing the early implementation of the deal as “unprecedented”.

System ‘at risk’

“The interim measures aim to prevent the potentially irreparable detrimental impact of the transaction on competition, as well as possible irreversible integration of the merging parties, pending the outcome of the commission's merger investigation,” the EU body said.

Margrethe Vestager (pictured), the commissioner in charge of competition policy, said that Illumina and GRAIL had put the EU’s system of enforcement at risk.

Under the measures, which are binding on the companies, GRAIL is to be kept separate from Illumina and be run by independent manager, “exclusively in the interest of GRAIL, and not of Illumina”.

Fines for non-compliance

Among other measures, the two companies are also prohibited from sharing confidential business information, while GRAIL is being told to “actively work” on alternative options to the deal in case the commission rules out the merger under competition rules.

The commission will also approve a ‘monitoring trustee’ to ensure compliance. If the firms fail to comply, they face fines of up to 5% of their average daily turnover, or fines of up to 10% of their annual worldwide turnover.

In the meantime, the EU is continuing its investigation of whether the August announcement by Illumina infringed EU merger rules. The commission could impose a fine of up to 10% of the companies' annual worldwide turnover if it finds against them on this issue.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland