European regulators say Yes to GE's purchase of Amersham

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The European Union (EU) on Wednesday gave its blessing to General Electric Co.'s (GE) proposed $9.5 billion acquisition of Amersham plc.

The transaction would catapult GE Medical Systems (GEMS) into the pharmaceutical market, particularly in the segment of contrast imaging agents.

EU regulators determined that the "bundling" of Amersham's contrast imaging agents and GEMS' medical imaging technology was not a serious issue, in that "neither GE nor Amersham hold dominant positions in their respective products in Europe."

The EU added that GEMS' competitors - from other medical imaging technology companies, such as Siemens Medical Solutions, Philips Medical Systems International and Toshiba Corp. - will remain strong competition in the wake of the GE-Amersham acquisition. Amersham's primary competition in pharmaceuticals comes from Schering AG and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

GE and Amersham plan to complete the acquisition in April.

If and when the transaction is approved, Amersham would be GE's second major transaction in Europe in six months. The company completed its acquisition of Instrumentarium Corp., of Helsinki, in October 2003 for approximately $2.1 billion.