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EU Regulators Change Deadline for Illumina-Grail Investigation

This story has been updated to include comments from Illumina. 

NEW YORK – The European Commission has suspended the provisional deadline for its Phase II investigation into Illumina's plans to buy Grail, adding uncertainty to whether regulators will wrap up before the deal expires.

As first reported by Reuters, the Commission is waiting on Illumina to fulfill a data request. The original Commission investigation deadline was Nov. 29. There does not appear to be a new deadline yet.

"We are disappointed that the EC has chosen to delay its review of our reacquisition of Grail given the importance of bringing Grail's life-saving test to as many patients as possible as quickly as possible," Illumina General Counsel Charles Dadswell said in a statement. "We continue to work around the clock to meet the EC's substantial demands and have already produced more than one million documents after receiving the EC's document request only 10 days ago. We are confident that the EC will resume its review shortly, and ultimately approve this acquisition as pro-competitive."

Illumina and Grail's merger agreement expires in September, but the companies have an option to extend that deadline to Dec. 20, 2021.

"We still think the deal should be approved given its vertical nature and early-stage aspect of Grail," Canaccord Genuity analyst Kyle Mikson wrote in a research note. "However, this news could add further doubt whether the acquisition will be completed." 

Illumina proposed in late 2019 to acquire Grail, an Illumina spinoff that makes multi-cancer early detection tests, for $8 billion in cash and stock. Since then, the Commission's competition regulators have joined the US Federal Trade Commission in scrutinizing the deal. The FTC's administrative trial to block the deal starts Aug. 24.