EC says Merck and Sigma-Aldrich broke M&A procedures and could face $170m fine

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/Jorisvo
iStock/Jorisvo
German Merck and Sigma-Aldrich broke EU merger procedures and could face a fine equivalent to 1% of the combined firm's annual revenue according to the European Commission

The Commission made the allegation today​, explaining that when Merck and Sigma-Aldrich disclosed their merger plan in 2015 they did not share details of a project “with relevance for certain laboratory chemicals at the core of the Commission's analysis​.”

The Commission declined to go into specifics about the project when contacted by in-Pharmatechnologist.com.

However, the Commission did make clear the project was being developed by one of the parts of the Sigma business that was acquired by Honeywell in October 2015. It also said the technology developed as a result of the project was subsequently licensed to Honeywell.

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​” the commission said.

The commission said it will continue to investigate whether Merck and Sigma-Aldrich intentionally or negligently supplied incorrect or misleading information, adding that it could impose a fine equivalent to 1% of the combined company’s annual turnover.

Merck response

Merck confirmed it had received a Statement of Objections from the European Commission (EC) related to a packaging technology in development by Sigma-Aldrich.

In an emailed statement it said it “will review the information provided by the EC and provide its written response to the EC in due course.

Merck has acted in good faith since the anti-trust process has begun, and it is committed to a constructive dialogue with the EC. Merck is confident this issue will be resolved in a satisfactory manner​.”

For 2016, Merck reported revenue of €17bn ($19.3bn), up around 17% on the prior year.

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