FTC moves to block Illumina's takeover of PacBio

The Federal Trade Commission said Dec. 17 it is moving to block Illumina's proposed $1.2 billion acquisition of Pacific Biosciences, alleging Illumina is illegally trying to maintain a monopoly in the DNA sequencing market. 

Illumina, a San Diego-based biotech that was formed in 2007, builds machines that sequence DNA cheaper and quicker than other companies and has put many of its competitors out of business, according to STAT. It currently has a market capitalization of $48 billion. 

DNA sequencing systems are a rapidly expanding technology used in genetic research and clinical testing, according to the FTC.

In a news release, the FTC alleged the proposed acquisition is illegal because it could substantially lessen competition in the U.S. 

"Illumina is seeking to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in the U.S. market for next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) systems by extinguishing PacBio as a nascent competitive threat," the agency wrote. 

PacBio's technology reads much bigger pieces of DNA code than Illumina's, so using the two technologies together could produce much more accurate genetic information, according to STAT. Because of this, Illumina argues the two companies are complementary, not competing. 

"We strongly disagree with the FTC’s decision and will continue to work through the regulatory approval process as we consider next steps,” Illumina spokesman Eric Endicott said in a statement to STAT. "We believe that the acquisition will benefit the industry and customers, and the facts of our proposed transaction support this."

Read the full article here

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