Commission fines Sigma-Aldrich €7.5 million for providing misleading information during Merck takeover investigation
Topics: SIGMA-ALDRICH MERCK
On 21 April 2015, Merck notified the Commission of its plan to acquire Sigma-Aldrich. 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.
Not only was the project not disclosed and discussed in remedy submissions, but information about it was also withheld in replies to specific requests for information. 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.
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.
The Commission has concluded that an overall fine of €7.5 million is both proportionate and deterrent. ■