Regulators give green light to GE's acquisition of Instrumentarium

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General Electric Co. (GE) on Sept. 16 cleared the final hurdle in the regulatory process to purchase  Instrumentarium Corp. for approximately $2.1 billion.

The U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with GE to divest two of Instrumentarium's business units - its Spacelabs patient monitoring business and its Ziehm C-arm product line - in order to alleviate the federal agency's antitrust concerns. The Justice Dept.'s decision came 13 days after the European Commission (EC) cleared the transaction and attached a similar caveat for GE to sell Spacelabs to gain EC approval.

"These divestitures will preserve competition in the sale and development of important medical devices and will prevent anticompetitive harm to healthcare providers and their patients," said R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Dept.'s antitrust division.

GE reportedly proposed the possibility of selling the Spacelabs unit in July to appease the EC. Under the proposition, Spacelabs' next owner would be allowed to distribute and market certain Instrumentarium anesthesia machines non-exclusively and Cardiocap/5 has monitors exclusively in Europe.

Instrumentarium acquired Spacelabs Medical in July 2002 for approximately $140 million.

GE's tender offer for all of Instrumentarium's shares is set to expire on Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. EST. The Fairfield, Conn.-based company plans to announce the results on Oct. 6.