European Commission approves BD acquisition of Bard, subject to conditions

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The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Bard by BD. The decision is conditional on the divestment of BD’s core needle biopsy devices business, and tissue marker product that is currently under development.

CR Bard and Becton, Dickinson and Company are both US companies active globally in the supply of medical devices, including devices used in biopsies.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The conditions we have imposed on this merger will help to ensure that millions of European patients and member states’ healthcare systems in the EU, will continue to enjoy access at fair prices to a variety of innovative medical devices—in this case devices that are key to diagnose and treat very serious medical conditions, such as cancer.”

Competition concerns

The companies’ activities are largely complementary but overlap in the markets for core needle biopsy devices and tissue markers, which are both used for the diagnosis of medical conditions such as breast cancer. The Commission examined the competitive effects of the proposed acquisition on these two markets.

For core needle biopsy devices, Bard and BD are close competitors facing limited competitive pressure in this market. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have removed one of the few credible competitors of Bard and reduced choice and innovation in the area of core needle biopsy devices.

For tissue markers, Bard is the market leader with only a few competitors. BD’s tissue marker product under development could potentially compete with Bard in the near future. The Commission had concerns that the acquisition, as initially notified, would have eliminated a credible future competitor of Bard, and so was likely to reduce innovation in the area of tissue markers.

In order to address these concerns, BD committed to divest its worldwide core needle biopsy business, including manufacturing equipment, finished goods inventory, and intangible assets required to produce the core needle biopsy products. The company also committed to development projects related to core needle biopsy products and tissue markers.

The Commission found that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would not raise competition concerns. This decision is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments.

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