EU Authorities Suspect GE, Merck, Canon Of Merger Violations

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The European Commission said Thursday that the German pharma company Merck, the United States conglomerate General Electric and the Japanese company Canon are being investigated for alleged breaches of EU merger rules.

EU Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager said her department is reviewing recent merger clearances on suspicion that companies misled the commission when registering for antitrust review.

The European Commission announced today that it has also reached preliminary conclusions on two more cases, against Merck and General Electric, on precious merger processes they underwent. The EU said however that the investigations won't have an impact on its approval of the three mergers, which will remain effective.

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While General Electric, and Merck and Sigma-Aldrich risk a fine of as much as 1 percent of annual worldwide sales, Canon's penalty could climb up to 10 percent of sales. The social network said it acted in good faith and won a lower fine after cooperating with regulators. "When informed of the EC's concerns, we acted quickly and openly to resolve the issue", GE said in a statement.

The EU competition enforcer said Canon jumped the gun via a two-step warehousing move to acquire Toshiba Medical Systems Corp prior to securing regulatory approval. An acquisition made in this way is in breach of EU Merger regulation as Canon Inc. failed to notify the commission before the acquisition took place.

Japan-based Canon is suspected of acquiring Toshiba's medical services previous year before seeking European Union approval. Commissioner Vestager added that "We need companies to work with us to ensure fast and predictable merger control, to the benefit of both companies and consumers".

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