The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is blocking Illumina's planned $1.2 billion acquisition of Pacific Biosciences of California (PacBio) on the grounds that the deal would be anticompetitive.
In a press statement, the FTC explained that it filed an administrative complaint charging that Illumina is pursuing the acquisition to "unlawfully maintain its monopoly" in the U.S. market for next-generation sequencing "by extinguishing PacBio as a nascent competitive threat."
PacBio pioneered long-read sequencing technology and has improved the accuracy of its products and also lowered costs, the agency noted.
"Customers have already switched some sequencing volume from Illumina to PacBio for certain use cases and applications, and PacBio is poised to take increasing sequencing volume from Illumina in the future," the FTC said.
Following the filing of an administrative complaint, charges are reviewed by an administrative law judge in a formal hearing. In the meantime, the agency is seeking a temporary restraining order to block action on the deal.