Illumina (Nasdaq:ILMN) announced today that the European Commission issued a decision prohibiting its planned acquisition of Grail.
San Diego-based Illumina said it is reviewing the order and intends to appeal the decision. The new hurdle in Europe follows a recent ruling in the U.S. that favored the acquisition. An administrative law judge in the U.S. rejected the Federal Trade Commission’s argument that the $8 billion acquisition of Grail is anti-competitive.
The much-scrutinized acquisition of Grail, a cancer detection technology developer, has met a series of roadblocks along the way. In September 2020, Illumina agreed to acquire Grail, a startup that initially spun out from the company in 2016.
Illumina completed the acquisition in August 2021. However, Illumina agreed to hold Grail as a separate company as the European Commission conducted a regulatory review. Illumina argued Grail has no business in Europe. The company said the review is out of the European Commission’s jurisdiction.
“We are disappointed with the European Commission’s decision prohibiting us from acquiring Grail back to Illumina,” said Charles Dadswell, general counsel of Illumina. “Illumina can make Grail’s life-saving multi-cancer early detection test more available, more affordable, and more accessible – saving lives and lowering healthcare costs. As we continue to believe, this merger is pro-competitive and will accelerate innovation.”
Alternative plans being prepared
Illumina also plans to review strategic alternatives in case the divestiture is not stayed, pending appeal. It argues that the merger “would usher in a transformational phase” in cancer detection and treatment. Grail’s Galleri multi-cancer screening blood test can screen asymptomatic patients for more than 50 types of cancer.
Galleri can identify the tissue in which cancer has developed. The platform is available in the U.S. and United Kingdom but not the European Union. Illumina says it would accelerate Grail’s commercial entry into the EU at scale by at least five years.
The compay is also separately appealing a July 2022 decision by the General Court of the European Union regarding the European Commission’s jurisdiction to challenge the Grail deal.