(Source: EU Parliament)
Mergers: Commission fines Sigma-Aldrich €7.5 million for providing misleading information during Merck takeover investigation
The European Commission has fined Sigma-Aldrich €7.5 million for providing incorrect or misleading information during the Commission’s investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of Merck’s acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich. The EU Merger Regulation obliges companies in a merger investigation to provide correct and non-misleading information. On 15 June 2015, the Commission approved the proposed acquisition subject to the divestiture of certain Sigma-Aldrich assets, which would address the competition concerns identified in markets for specific laboratory chemicals. In the context of the divestment process, the Commission was made aware that an innovation project, called iCap was closely linked to the divested business and specifically developed for products included in the divestment business. However, the project had not been disclosed to the Commission. Moreover, the Commission found indications that Sigma-Adrich’s supply of incorrect or misleading information was intended to avoid the transfer of the relevant project to the purchaser of the divestment business. Hence, statements provided to the Commission were incorrect or misleading and prevented the Commission from undertaking an informed assessment of the intended scope of the commitments. In today’s decision, the Commission concludes that Sigma-Aldrich committed three distinct infringements by providing, deliberately or at least negligently, incorrect or misleading information in the explanatory submission describing the remedy package and in the replies to two requests for information made pursuant to Article 11(2) of the EU Merger Regulation. Today’s decision has no impact on the Commission’s decision to authorise the transaction under the EU Merger Regulation. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The effectiveness of our merger control system relies on the accuracy of the information provided by the companies involved. Accurate information is essential for the Commission to take competition decisions in full knowledge of the facts. Today’s decision to fine Sigma-Aldrich shows that companies should not withhold or provide misleading information. This is vital for the assessment of a deal, especially for research and development projects, which are by nature secret and for which only the parties have access to relevant information.”
The full press release is online here.