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New Antitrust Thinking

Illumina's acquisition of Grail may test a new approach to antitrust cases, the New York Times writes.

Illumina announced in September 2020 that it was acquiring Grail, which it had spun out four years previously, for $8 billion in cash and stock. The move quickly drew the interest of regulators in the US and Europe, as GenomeWeb has reported, noting that Illumina completed the acquisition in August 2021 despite the scrutiny.

The Times writes that the deal is considered a vertical merger as the companies are in different markets and that in times past, the deal would not have gotten much pushback from regulators. But it says that a new line of thinking has since emerged that considers previous enforcement too lax, and the Federal Trade Commission has moved to block the deal — it argues that the deal would give Illumina sway over Grail competitors — and the European Commission is investigating it. The Times adds that Illumina has noted in response to the FTC complaint that regulators "have not successfully enjoined a vertical merger in over 40 years."

According to the Times, the case is being closely watched, as it could also have implications for Meta, the parent company of Facebook. "Smaller cases can make big law, and this could be one of those cases," Andrew Gavil, a law professor at Howard University, tells the Times.

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