J&J Defends Synthes Bid at European Union Antitrust Hearing

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Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) — Johnson & Johnson defended its planned acquisition of orthopedics maker Synthes Inc. at a meeting with European Union antitrust regulators yesterday.

“There was an oral hearing,” said Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission in Brussels. He declined to comment further. A hearing usually follows a formal antitrust complaint listing regulators’ concerns that a deal may harm competition.

The commission opened an expanded probe in November into the deal. It said at the time that the transaction may trigger an increase in prices for orthopedic medical devices.

The world’s second-largest seller of health products agreed in April to buy Synthes, a maker of medical tools to treat damaged bones, in a deal valued at the time at $21.3 billion, the biggest purchase in the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company’s history. It would make J&J the leader in the $5.5 billion market for devices used to treat trauma victims.

Johnson & Johnson’s spokesman, William Price, declined to comment in an e-mail. Synthes didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. The commission has a deadline of April 2 to rule on the deal.

The hearing was reported earlier by Reuters.

–With assistance from Allison Connolly in Frankfurt and Alex Nussbaum in New York. Editors: Peter Chapman, Christopher Scinta

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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