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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 5 October 2012

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of pharma company Actavis by rival Watson

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Actavis by the generic pharmaceutical company Watson of the U.S. The Commission concluded that the merged entity will continue to face a number of strong competitors.

The Commission examined the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for a number of drugs, such as anti-depressants and anti-hypertensives, in particular in Denmark, Sweden and the UK.

The investigation showed that despite significant changes in the competitive situation in some of the markets, a sufficient number of credible and strong competitors will continue to exercise a competitive constraint on the merged entity.

The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA)1 or a substantial part of it.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 31 August 2012.

Companies and Products

Watson is a large generic pharmaceutical company historically focused on the U.S.

Actavis is a large generic pharmaceutical company with a wider geographic presence.

Generic drugs are comparable to branded drugs in terms of dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. In most cases, generic products are available once the patent protections afforded to the original developer have expired.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

A non-confidential version of today's decision will be available at:

Contacts :

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)

1 :

The EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

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