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Illumina fights EU order to divest Grail

FILE PHOTO: Illumina's global headquarters is pictured in San Diego, California

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. life science company Illumina on Wednesday took its case to senior EU and national antitrust officials at a closed hearing to argue against an EU antitrust order that it divests cancer detection test maker Grail Inc.

Illumina had completed a takeover of Grail in August 2021, without securing European Union regulatory approval. The European Commission ordered Illumina in December to unwind the deal, three months after it had blocked the merger on concerns the deal would stifle innovation.

Illumina has said the EU competition enforcer should not have examined the case as the companies do not meet a revenue threshold stipulated by EU merger rules.

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"We disagree that the Commission has jurisdiction to review the Grail transaction and believe that divestment is not proportional to the speculative harm the Commission has alleged," Illumina said in a statement ahead of the hearing.

"Any divestment order should be stayed until our appeal of the Commission's prohibition decision has been resolved," it said.

Companies usually take the opportunity at such hearings to persuade senior EU and national competition officials of the pro-competitive advantages of their deals.

Illumina has three appeals pending in Europe's top courts, against the EU enforcer's ruling that it jumped the gun by closing the deal without securing approval, the EU's subsequent veto, and the EU decision to examine the case in the first place.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Bernadette Baum)