Conditional green light for Johnson & Johnson buy of Synthes
By Sophie Mosca | Friday 20 April 2012
The European Commission cleared conditionally, on 19 April, the acquisition of Synthes, a Swiss manufacturer of orthopaedic devices, by the international group Johnson & Johnson (J&J), number two worldwide in the health products sector. The deal represents J&J’s largest acquisition ever (€16 billion) and makes it the world’s leader in orthopaedic reconstruction. J&J had to agree to sell its trauma business in the European Economic Area to remedy the competition problems resulting from the merger on the market for medical devices in this sector in several member states.
The in-depth investigation, opened by the Commission on 4 November 2011 (see
Europolitics 4299), showed that the merged entity’s combined market share in this highly concentrated sector and the exclusive relationship between Synthes and the Swiss AO Foundation could make it harder for competitors to enter the market. Biomet Group has already proposed to buy certain units in this sector.
On the other hand, for the other sectors – spine devices, shoulder replacement devices, solutions for cranio-maxillofacial surgery and surgical power tools – the Commission did not identify any competition problems.
“We obtained remedies to ensure that competition will remain strong in these markets, for the ultimate benefit of patients and social security systems,” commented Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.