European Commission approves Illumina's plan to divest Grail

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The European Commission (EC) has approved Illumina's plan to divest itself of multicancer early detection test maker Grail under the European Union Merger Regulation (EUMR) adopted by the EC in October 2023.

"Today’s decision marks another important step towards restoring competition in the market for the development of early cancer detection tests. Illumina's divestment plan sets out a timely path towards Grail's independence, by ensuring it continues to be a viable competitor in this important innovation race," Margrethe Vestager, the EC's executive vice president in charge of competition policy, said in a statement from the EC.

The EU antitrust regulatory body had ordered Illumina to unwind its acquisition of Grail as a restorative measure following its ruling that Illumina had completed the $8 billion transaction while the EC was conducting an in-depth investigation over anticompetition concerns, violating EU merger regulations.

In addition, Illumina was fined 432 million euros ($457 million) and Grail 1,000 euros ($1,064) in July by the EC for the unauthorized transaction.

In a statement, Illumina said that while the means of divestment have not been finalized, the company is "pleased to reach an agreement with the EC on specific divestment options as it represents an important milestone in the process."

The firm said that it is exploring divesting Grail through a trade sale or a capital markets transaction, both of which have been considered in the plan which was approved by the EC. The company added that it aims to finalize those terms by the end of the second quarter of 2024.

Should Illumina opt for the capital markets transaction, the company must provide Grail with an estimated 2.5  years of funding based on Grail's long-range plan, in the amount of approximately $1 billion.

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