Illumina, the leading producer of gene sequencing machines, announced on sunday that it would sell Grail, a cancer test developer it bought for $7.1 billion in 2021.
The move came two days after Illumina lost its case in a federal appeals court, which largely upheld a decision by the Federal Trade Commission. decision that Illumina should terminate its agreement with Grail for antitrust reasons.
Antitrust experts saw the case as a test of regulators’ efforts to stop big companies from buying up fledgling innovators.
The deal had also faced a hurdle in Europe. In September 2022, the European Union said it would block the acquisition. San Diego-based Illumina previously publicly stated that if it was unsuccessful in appeals in either jurisdiction, it would sell the startup.
“We are committed to a rapid sale of Grail in a way that allows its technology to continue benefiting patients,” Illumina CEO Jacob Thaysen said in a statement. “The management team and I continue to focus on our core business and supporting our customers. “I am confident in Illumina’s opportunities and our long-term success.”
Grail, which has created technology for early detection of some cancers, began as a research project within Illumina. It was created as an independent company in 2016. While it does not compete with Illumina in gene sequencing, it does use gene sequencing in its blood tests to detect cancer.
Illumina moved forward with its purchase of Grail, despite an initial complaint from the FTC, which argued that the acquisition would decrease innovation in the US market and increase prices. Still, Illumina was confident it would win in court.
The Grail sale will be executed through a third-party sale or capital market transaction, the company said, with the goal of completing the deal by the end of the second quarter of next year.
Now that the commission’s challenge to the deal has been upheld in court, other tech giants and dominant companies in their respective fields could see their acquisition attempts stopped by the agency. Since she took office in 2021, FTC Chair Lina Khan has taken a more aggressive stance toward mergers that she believes can be detrimental to the economy.