Illumina gets EU antitrust charge sheet to unwind Grail acquisition swiftly

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Dec 5 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators on Monday sent a charge sheet to U.S. life sciences company Illumina outlining proposed measures to unwind its acquisition of Grail, three months after they blocked the deal on concerns that it would hurt competition.

Illumina completed the deal in August last year without first waiting for EU regulatory approval. The European Commission in its September decision said the company failed to offer adequate remedies to allay its worries.

The EU competition enforcer said it had sent a statement of objections to Illumina and biotechnology company Grail setting out proposed measures the companies would have to take to restore competition in the market.

"The dissolution of the transaction must restore Grail's independence from Illumina, to the same level that Grail had prior to the completion of the transaction," it said.

"Grail must be as viable and competitive after the divestment as it was before Illumina's acquisition, to ensure that the innovation race between Grail and its rivals can continue as before."

The Commission said the divestment must be swift. The measures set out in the statement of objections will replace interim measures adopted in October.

The companies can ask for a closed-door hearing and also submit a written response before the EU antitrust watchdog issues a final decision. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee)