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Illumina Defends Acquisition of Grail Against Antitrust Regulators

On Tuesday, U.S. life sciences company Illumina Inc (NASDAQ:ILMN) defended its $7.1 billion acquisition of biotech firm Grail Inc, as it seeks to ward off a potential vote by U.S. antitrust regulators to halt the deal.

In March 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint to stop the bid for Grail, claiming that Illumina would raise prices or stop selling to rivals of Grail if the acquisition went through.

Despite the FTC's lawsuit, Illumina completed the takeover without receiving regulatory approval from Europe or the United States in August 2021. David Marriott, Illumina's advocate, argued that the deal should go ahead since it would save lives by allowing early detection of many kinds of cancer through a single blood test. Illumina had also promised to sign contracts to supply any of Grail's rivals and not to raise prices.

Susan Musser, leading the FTC's argument against the deal, countered that with the acquisition approved, Grail's rivals could have a more challenging time getting materials needed to run their tests. Regulators in Europe are also challenging the acquisition and have proposed measures for Illumina to unwind the buy. A final decision is expected in early 2023.