transatlantic antitrust dance
A review of an $8 billion deal between life sciences companies Illumina and Grail could signal a new playbook for antitrust enforcement. Regulators are trying to thwart the merger in the US and Europe, a trans-Atlantic coordination that unlocks resources to question more deals, as political pressure builds to investigate whether companies, particularly Big Tech, are crushing competition.
EU competition authorities He told The Wall Street Journal Until: They expect greater compliance with the Biden administration on antitrust enforcement.
Background: In September, gene sequencing company Illumina announced that it had acquired Grail, a manufacturer of early cancer detection tests. (Grail was split by Illumina in 2016.) Companies operate in different parts of the supply chain, with Illumina upstream, gene sequencing machines, and Grail downstream running a test on these machines. Officials in the US say Illumina is the only DNA sequencing provider used with Grail tests. Regulators are concerned that the combined company will have the power to block investigations of Grail’s potential competitors.
Europe moves on to a comprehensive review of the dealIllumina confirmed to DealBook after regulators rejected the concessions offered by the companies yesterday. This works well for US authorities that have traditionally acted independently of their international counterparts. FTC in May a request dropped Stop merger in federal court while pending a domestic lawsuit. The FTC said not suing would save resources and European scrutiny would keep the deal going anyway.
Can they do this? illuminated To claim that EU officials have the right to review the treaty, call a rule for countries with limited competitive resources. company challenge scrutiny in a European court. Francis deSouza, Illumina’s CEO, said Grail does not yet operate in Europe, so if the review holds up, it could open the door for Europe to intervene in deals between companies with limited or no presence in the EU.
“Maybe we’re getting caught in the anti-tech momentum” deSouza told DealBook. Democrats in Congress recently proposed sweeping legislation aimed at competition in the digital age and the White House disseminated executive order on reining in corporate power. Olivier Guersent, a senior EU antitrust official, told The Journal that his team is in touch with US regulators about the recent cases “so they can benefit from our learning curve”.