US antitrust enforcers to investigate a rare court loss

US antitrust enforcers to investigate a rare court loss

A federal judge handed over an unusual court loss to US antitrust enforcers on Thursday, and refused to block Steris Corp. from purchasing Synergy Health PLC, based in the United Kingdom. Steris is an infection-prevention company.

US District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland said no to a request by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for a preliminary injunction blocking the merger. The judge said that FTC was not able to show the deal was capable of affecting competition in the US.

Steris said that it accepts decision by the judge, and would “work to expeditiously close the acquisition”.

The FTC refused to make any comment on the decision, or whether the agency will go on with its challenge that depends on a little-used legal theory based on prospective future competition between the companies.

The ruling proved to be a big change in wining line of antitrust officials at the FTC and the Justice Department in past few years. The agencies have been taking the step of approaching court to challenge mergers, which they take as a threat to competition.

In June, the FTC won a major ruling, which blocked Sysco Corp. from buying its competitor US Foods Inc. At present, the Justice Department is challenging $3.3 billion planned sale of General Electric Co.’s appliance business to Electrolux AB.

Last October, Steris agreed to acquire Synergy in cash-and-stock transaction worth $1.9 billion. It was an ‘inversion’ deal in which Steris wanted to reincorporate in Britain and this could cut its taxes.


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