Amersham, GE merger on track for April

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General Electric's €8.1 billion acquisition of the UK's Amersham
was approved by the European Union yesterday, after it concluded
that the deal would not create a monopoly in Europe's medical
imaging market.

The concern had been that GE would be able to bundle its instruments with Amersham's imaging agents and squeeze other suppliers out of the market. Similar bundling issues caused the EU to block GE's proposed merger with Honeywell International in 2001.

The US antitrust authorities gave their backing to the deal last month, and the two companies are now expecting to seal the knot in April.

Once completed, Amersham will join another recent acquisition - Finland's Instrumentarium -as part of a new GE Healthcare Technologies division, specialising in medical imaging and diagnostics. It will be headquartered in the UK and headed by Amersham chief executive Sir Bill Castell.

Amersham Biosciences, which makes instruments and tools used in drug discovery as well as protein separation equipment for manufacturing, will operate as a unit of GE Healthcare Technologies.

There has been speculation that Biosciences may in time be spun out as it covers industries that are new for GE. However, GE's chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, has repeatedly stressed that the company is firmly committed to the drug industry and will both retain the units and add to them.

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