Illumina loses challenge against EU antitrust probe into Grail deal

LUXEMBOURG, July 13 (Reuters) – U.S. life sciences company Illumina (ILMN.O) on Wednesday lost its challenge to the European Union‘s review of its $8 billion cash and stock takeover of Grail (GRAL.O), as Europe’s highest court agreed that the EU’s antitrust watchdog had the right to do so.

The case is important to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who wants to expand the European Commission‘s power to review startup acquisitions by big companies that may seek to shut down fledgling rivals, by particularly in technological and pharmaceutical agreements.

Its detractors see it as a power grab that has set off alarm bells in some national competition agencies.

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Illumina said it would appeal the decision to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest in Europe.

“The Commission is competent to examine the concentration which did not have a European dimension or did not fall within the scope of the national merger control rules of the Member States of the European Union or of the States party to the agreement on the European Economic Area”, said the General Council. said the court.

The judges dismissed Illumina’s claim that the action of the EU competition authority had ended legal certainty and legitimate expectations in the merger process.

They said the company had failed to demonstrate that it “had received specific, unconditional and consistent assurances from authoritative and reliable sources such as to cause it to have well-founded expectations”.

The Commission said it took over the Illumina dossier at the request of Belgium, France, Greece, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway, even though the agreement did not require the approval from these countries as Grail had no business in Europe.

Illumina announced the deal in September 2020 that would give it access to Grail’s flagship Galleri blood test used to diagnose cancers at an early stage when the disease is easier to treat.

He completed the acquisition in August 2021 without waiting for EU clearance and was then asked to spin off Grail and hand over the running of the business to independent managers until regulators finalize their investigation into under another procedure.

The case is T-227/21 Illumina v Commission.

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Additional reporting by Marine Strauss in Brussels; Editing by Edmund Blair

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