The EU Commission blocks an acquisition of a nascent biotech firm which is developing a promising cancer detection technology by a large American biotech company notwithstanding the fact that the transaction fails to reach the requisite merger thresholds (Illumina / GRAIL)

In a landmark decision announced on September 6, 2022 (“Decision”), the European Commission (“EC”) prohibited the acquisition by Illumina, a U.S. company specialising in genomic sequencing, of GRAIL, a U.S.- based start-up developing early cancer-detection tests (“Transaction”). [1] The EC blocked the Transaction even though it did not meet notification thresholds under the EU Merger Regulation (“EUMR”) or in any Member State: at the time of prohibition, GRAIL had not launched a product on the market and had no sales in the EEA. This is the first time the EC has reviewed – and blocked – a transaction falling below the EUMR and referring Member State notification thresholds. [2] Factual Background Illumina’s principal business is next-generation sequencing (“NGS”) instruments and consumables.

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  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Brussels)
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Brussels)
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Brussels)

Quotation

Nicholas Levy, Francisco Enrique González-Díaz, Lydia Bitsakou, Brian Cullen, The EU Commission blocks an acquisition of a nascent biotech firm which is developing a promising cancer detection technology by a large American biotech company notwithstanding the fact that the transaction fails to reach the requisite merger thresholds (Illumina / GRAIL), 6 September 2022, e-Competitions September 2022, Art. N° 108802

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