EU Antitrust Regulators Re-Start Illumina, Grail Probe

EU antitrust regulators have resumed their scrutiny of US life sciences company Illumina’s bid for Grail after a two-month temporary halt and will decide by February 4 whether to clear the deal, a European Commission filing showed on Tuesday, October 12.

The EU competition enforcer paused its investigation on August 11 while waiting for Illumina to provide requested data.

It restarted the clock on October 7. Last month, it sent a statement of objections to Illumina for closing the deal before securing regulatory clearance, warning of interim measures.

Illumina finalized the deal in August and stated it would hold Grail as a separate company while waiting for the EU green light. Even though Illumina and Grail have pledged to keep their business operations separate pending final reviews, being officially found in breach of the EU’s “standstill obligation” or other merger regulations could lead to fines of up to 10% of each party’s annual worldwide turnover—which for Illumina alone topped US$3.2 billion in 2020—and the Commission stated that, in its preliminary view, the companies had already done so.

European antitrust watchdogs and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have stated the deal could give Illumina an opportunity to throttle the R&D progress of potential cancer diagnostic competitors due to its weighty global market share in the necessary DNA analysis hardware.

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