EU Authorities Suspect GE, Merck, Canon Of Merger Violations

EU charges Merck KGaA GE Canon over merger rules

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

The European Commission said it had sent three separate charge sheets, known as statements of objections, to Merck and Sigma-Aldrich, General Electric and Canon. Meanwhile, Canon went through with a takeover of Toshiba Medical Systems before getting the EU's OK.

Japan-based Canon faces potential fines of up to 10 percent of annual revenue on suspicions it acquired Toshiba's medical equipment leasing company a year ago before seeking European Union approval. Companies have by 1 September to respond.

The EU said GE initially failed to provide information regarding research and development activities and that information was necessary to properly assess the future position of GE and the competitive landscape on the wind-turbine market, the watchdog said. "Merck is confident this issue will be resolved in a satisfactory manner". 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.

"Honeywell now has the technology it should have received with the divested business". It also said the technology developed as a result of the project was subsequently licensed to Honeywell. There is no specific time frame for the completion of the investigation.

Under the EU's merger rules, companies have to abide by strict and tight deadlines to submit information requested by the regulator, something lawyers say can be a challenge if companies have to dig up documents or internally cross-check information with different departments.

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