EU Blocks Illumina’s Deal to Buy Grail on Antitrust Grounds

By Geoffrey Smith 

Investing.com — The European Union has blocked Illumina’s (NASDAQ:) $7.1 billion acquisition of cancer detection test maker Grail, saying that Illumina failed to address its concerns about the deal restricting competition.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the Commission deemed Illumina “currently the only credible supplier of a technology allowing to develop and process” the cancer tests that Grail and others are striving to develop. 

“With this transaction, Illumina would have an incentive to cut off Grail’s rivals from accessing its technology, or otherwise disadvantage them. It is vital to preserve competition between early cancer detection test developers at this critical stage of development,” Vestager added, noting that Illumina had failed to put forward any remedies to address the Commission’s concerns. 

The Commission’s reasoning echoes the concerns of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has also initiated a review of the deal, despite a ruling from the agency’s chief administrative judge that the merger would not harm competition.

The FTC had voted unanimously in March last year to file suit to stop Illumina buying out its former subsidiary, arguing that it would restrict innovation that could detect various types of cancer. 

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