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FTC Says Sale of Certain Thermo Fisher Assets to GE Healthcare is Required for Life Tech Deal OK

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Federal Trade Commission today said that Thermo Fisher Scientific has agreed to sell certain assets to GE Healthcare as a condition of getting clearance for its acquisition of Life Technologies.

The FTC had charged that the deal would "likely substantially lessen competition" in three relevant product markets — siRNA reagents, cell culture media, and cell culture sera. Under a proposed order to settle the FTC's charges, Thermo Fisher has agreed to divest its Dharmacon gene modulation business, which sells siRNA reagents, and its HyClone cell culture media and sera businesses to GE Healthcare.

GE and Thermo Fisher had announced earlier this month that GE would buy Thermo's cell culture media, gene modulation, and magnetic beads business for about $1.06 billion. In aggregate the three businesses generated approximately $250 million in revenues in 2013. In November Thermo Fisher said it would sell the businesses in order to expedite approval of the acquisition by the European Commission.

According to the FTC, a combined Thermo Fisher and Life Tech would hold a worldwide market share of more than 50 percent for siRNA reagents and more than 90 percent for siRNA reagent libraries, as well as at least a 50 percent share of the worldwide market for cell culture media, and 60 percent of the market for cell culture sera.

The combined firm would retain Life Tech's Ambion siRNA reagents and Gibco cell culture media and sera products post-divestiture.

The FTC added that GE Healthcare "has the experience, reputation, and resources to maintain the benefits of competition that otherwise would have been lost as a result of the acquisition."

Thermo Fisher agreed to buy Life Tech last April in a deal worth $13.6 billion plus the assumption of $2.2 billion of net debt. In reporting its fourth quarter and FY 2013 financial results yesterday, Thermo Fisher said that it expects FTC clearance of the deal soon and is assuming a closing date in early February.