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European Commission OKs Agilent's Acquisition of Varian; FTC Approval Still Pending

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This story originally ran on Jan. 21.

Agilent Technologies moved one step closer to finalizing its planned $1.5 billion purchase of Varian this week as the European Commission conditionally cleared the acquisition.

The deal had been delayed as both the EC and the US Federal Trade Commission had questions concerning it. FTC approval is still pending, but in a statement, Agilent said that it does not anticipate additional remedies to be sought by the regulatory agency "in markets beyond those committed to for the European Commission," and added that it expects the purchase to close early this year.

The acquisition, which is Agilent's largest ever in the life sciences [See PM 07/30/09], does not substantially add to Agilent's proteomics portfolio though Varian has a selection of LC/MS and Fourier transform mass specs for use in proteomics and protein analysis.

Varian also sells NMR platforms, HPLCs, X-ray crystallography equipment, and vacuum systems.

The EC is requiring certain businesses from both firms to be sold prior to the acquisition. Varian will sell its businesses in laboratory gas chromatography; triple-quadrupole gas chromatography mass spec; and inductively coupled plasma mass spec. Agilent will auction its micro-gas chromatography business.

Agilent said it and Varian have started the divestiture process and have spoken to interested buyers. The aggregate fiscal 2009 revenues from the four businesses were less than $100 million, according to Agilent.

Bill Sullivan, president and CEO of Agilent, said that although both his firm and Varian would have preferred to keep the four businesses, "these divestitures are not material. We remain very excited about bringing these two companies together to better serve worldwide bio-analytical customers with a broader portfolio of products and services."

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