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EU Clears Agilent Acquisition of Varian; Product Lines to be Divested

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – European Union regulatory authorities have granted antitrust clearance of Agilent's proposed acquisition of Varian, with conditions that include the sale of certain product lines.

Agilent agreed in July 2009 to acquire Varian for around $1.5 billion. The deal will expand Agilent's product portfolio into atomic and molecular spectroscopy and in other fields including nuclear magnetic resonance, imaging, and vacuum technologies, as well as increase its presence in certain life science, environmental, and energy markets.

Though the firms had expected to close the acquisition by the end of 2009, it has been held by reviews from both EU and US antitrust bodies.

Today, Agilent said that the EU cleared the deal, but with conditions that include the sale of product lines accounting for revenues of "under $100 million" in 2009. The firms were not more specific regarding the revenue figures.

The product lines to be sold include Varian's laboratory gas chromatography business, its triple quadrupole gas chromatography-mass spectrometry business, and its inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry business. In addition, Agilent has committed to sell its micro gas chromatography business.

"The European Commission's decision is a key milestone toward completing the transaction that will bring our two firms together," Agilent President and CEO Bill Sullivan said in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring that each of these four businesses is successfully divested as a viable, competitive business and that all customers remain fully supported during and beyond the divestiture process."

Though clearance by the US Federal Trade Commission is still pending, the firms said that they do not expect additional remedies beyond those being taken in Europe to satisfy the FTC. The merger partners expect to close the deal early this year.

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