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European Commission clears Abbott, Alere deal

The European Commission cleared Abbott Laboratories' proposed acquisition of Alere Inc. under the European Union merger regulation, subject to divestment of certain Alere businesses.

The commission noted that the companies' activities are largely complementary, but there are overlaps in particular point-of-care analyzers used in testing of blood gases and cardiac markers. It also found that the deal could cause competitive concerns and impact Danaher Corp.'s ability to compete for laboratory systems running B-type natriuretic peptide tests.

According to the commission, Danaher relies on Alere for the manufacturing and sale of the B-type natriuretic peptide test used on its laboratory machines. Abbot could have stopped selling the tests for Danaher's machines after the proposed merger as it competes with Danaher in laboratory systems.

The healthcare giant addressed the commission's concerns by offering to divest Alere's global Epoc, triage and B-type natriuretic peptide reagents businesses.

Previously, Abbott filed a lawsuit to terminate the $5.8 billion deal. The filing cited several material adverse events, including the government's elimination of billing privileges of a substantial Alere division, a permanent recall of an Alere platform, several government subpoenas, and delayed and reinstated financial statements.

"Alere is no longer the company Abbott agreed to buy 10 months ago," Scott Stoffel, Abbott's divisional vice president of external communications, stated in a previous statement.

Alere said that the lawsuit was without merit and that none of the issues raised by Abbott form a basis to avoid closing the deal. It also said it would take all actions necessary to protect its shareholders and to compel Abbott to complete the transaction.