EU Opens Formal Probe Into GE, Merck KGaA, Sigma-Aldrich And Canon, Says They Breached Merger Rules

By Sara Sjolin Markets MarketWatch Pulse

The EU antitrust watchdog has opened formal probes into General Electric Co. , Merck KGaA , Sigma-Aldrich and Canon Inc. , alleging they broke merger rules in recent acquisitions. The EU competition commission said General Electric, and Merck and Sigma-Aldrich all provided incorrect or misleading information, while Canon went through with a merger before notification and clearance. "We can only do our job well if we can rely on cooperation from the companies concerned -- they must obtain our approval before they implement their transactions and the information they supply us must be correct and complete," said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in a statement. The three mergers include Merck's takeover of Sigma-Aldrich, General Electric's planned acquisition of LM Wind and Canon's deal to buy Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation. The EU commission said the probes won't impact the approval process. Shares of Merck were down 1.3% in Germany, while GE was slightly higher in U.S. premarket action. Canon shares were closed for trade at the time of the release and Sigma-Aldrich is owned by Merck.

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