On November 9, the European Commission approved the proposed acquisition of Fisher Scientific International Inc. by Thermo Electron Corporation. Both companies are based in the United States and supply products and services for laboratory activities. The Commission’s clearance is conditional upon the divestiture of Genevac, Fisher’s subsidiary active in the production and sale of centrifugal evaporators. In light of this commitment, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it.
Both Thermo and Fisher are U.S. companies active in the field of manufacturing and supplying a wide variety of analytical instruments, scientific equipment, consumables and services to the scientific community, including clinical, pharmaceutical, environmental and industrial laboratories. Fisher is also active as a distributor of laboratory and life science products.
The Commission examined the competitive effects of the proposed merger in the markets where both companies are active as suppliers. The Commission’s investigation showed that the new entity continues to face strong, effective competitors in the manufacturing of the products involved, with the exception of centrifugal evaporators. Centrifugal evaporators are equipment that uses heat, vacuum and centrifugal force to concentrate laboratory samples by separating the solvent from samples suspended in solutions. As Thermo committed to divest all of Fisher’s assets for the production of centrifugal evaporators, the competition concerns resulting from the proposed transaction will be entirely removed.
Given that Fisher is active as a distributor, the Commission also scrutinized the market characteristics and the competitive structure at both manufacturing and distribution level and concluded that a significant share of distribution would still be available to other suppliers and likewise that distributors would not have problems in finding alternative sources of supply. Therefore the Commission came to the conclusion that the merged entity lacked the ability to restrict distributors’ access to input or to drive competing manufacturers out of the market.
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