Germany’s Merck may See EC Fine over Sigma-Aldrich

10.07.2017 -

The European Commission (EC) has called out Germany’s Merck KGaA for breach of EU rules in the 2015 acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich. The regulatory body said that during the merger review the Darmstadt-based pharmaceuticals, chemicals and laboratory products company had failed to disclose a packaging technology being developed by the US fine chemicals producer.

Although the EU action – which also was directed at US conglomerate General Electric (GE) and Canon for similar shortcomings – will not have consequences for the completed acquisition, it could carry a fine equivalent to 1% of the combined company’s annual sales. In 2016, with Sigma-Aldrich integrated, Merck KGaA had sales of €17 bn.

At a news conference to announce the Commissions Statements of Objeciions, Competition Commissioner Margaret Vestager said: “Companies have to give us full and accurate information, so we can take the right decisions.” These decisions, she added, require a forward-looking assessment that also includes an assessment of the impact on innovation.

The EU authority said the Sigma-Aldrich business in question belonged to a part of the business that was being sold to Honeywell to comply with the Commission’s remedy for approving the deal.” “Honeywell now has the technology. It should have received with the divested business. However, this happened with a delay of almost one year and only because the Commission was subsequently made aware of the issue by a third party,” it said.

Merck said it “has acted in good faith since the anti-trust process has begun, and it is committed to a constructive dialogue with the EC.”