Under investigation

The European Commission has opened a detailed investigation into the planned acquisition of Guidant by US healthcare group Johnson & Johnson.

The European Commission has opened a detailed investigation under EU merger regulations into the planned $24 billion acquisition of Guidant  by US healthcare group Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

The Commission’s initial market investigation found that the proposed acquisition may create significant competition problems given the two companies’ horizontal overlaps in markets for medical devices for the treatment of coronary and peripheral artery diseases and for cardiac surgery. The Commission has therefore opened a second phase of investigation to carry out an in-depth assessment of the proposed transaction.

Both J&J and Guidant are active worldwide in the development, production and sale of vascular medical devices. Their products are used by physicians in procedures to treat vascular diseases both in the heart (coronary arteries) and in other parts of the human body (e.g. carotid, renal, femoral arteries).

The firms are direct competitors in respect of a number of products and are both among a limited number of leading companies in Europe and worldwide.

The Commission now has 90 working days to investigate whether the proposed acquisition will significantly lessen effective competition in the European Union and EFTA markets. The Commission is also co-operating with the US Federal Trade Commission, which is also investigating the merger.