Thermo Fisher to divest HyClone cell culture biz following Life Tech approval

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

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Thermo Fisher must divest certain businesses, according to the EC
Thermo Fisher must divest certain businesses, according to the EC
The European Commission (EC) has cleared Thermo Fisher’s acquisition of Life Technologies subject to certain divestitures including its media and sera for cell culture business.

The proposed $13.6bn (€10bn) acquisition of Life Technologies agreed in April​ was one of the largest deals this year and Thermo Fisher has edged closer to clearing it with news yesterday that the EC has agreed to the merger subject to certain conditions.

According to the competition authorities, Thermo Fisher has agreed to divest several of its businesses including its HyClone business regarding media and sera for cell culture (excluding single use technologies), its gene modulation business (including gene silencing) in Lafayette, Colorado, and its polymer-based magnetic beads business.

These businesses had a combined 2012 revenue of approximately $225m, according to Thermo Fisher.

Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said in a statement an investigation was undertaken in collaboration with a number of authorities worldwide - including the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) -  and these divestments are necessary to “preserve competition and innovation in the life sciences industry.”

Regarding Thermo Fisher’s cell culture media business, the EC said it had concerns about the large combined market shares of the merged entity, with barriers of entry including time and investment preventing competition in the field.

Similarly for cell culture sera, barriers to entry include the limited availability of blood required and the merged company would have held too strong a position in the market, as would have been the case with the firms’ gene silencing products, the commission said.

“The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction, as modified by these commitments, would not raise competition concerns anymore,”​ the statement said.

Furthermore, it found the merger would not strain the competitive of a number of other markets including nucleic acid amplification products, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing kits, protein biology products and the distribution of laboratory and life science products.

Thermo Fisher did not respond to requests from regarding how and when these business areas would be divested and how it would shape the integration of Life Technologies, but in last month’s conference call to discuss Q£ results CEO Marc Casper told stakeholders “the integration planning teams are right on schedule”​ and “continues to work through regulatory process.”

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