EU Clears Abbott Purchase of Solvay Pharmaceuticals

Deal is contingent on the divestment of the cystic fibrosis testing business of Solvay subsidiary Innogenetics

European regulators on Thursday cleared Belgian chemical company Solvay's plans to sell its entire pharmaceutical business to U.S. pharmaceutical firm Abbott for more than 4.5 billion euros.

The European Commission's approval for the deal, whose worth could rise to 5.2 billion euros (US$7.1 billion) if add-on clauses are met, is "conditional upon the divestment of the cystic fibrosis testing business of Solvay Pharma's subsidiary Innogenetics," a statement said.

The sale sees Abbott take over all Solvay's pharmaceuticals employees and assume liabilities including future exposure to litigation.

Solvay said in September it would invest the proceeds in its original chemicals and plastics business, focusing on geographical expansion and attention to new products with a "low carbon footprint."

A round of consolidation has taken place throughout the pharmaceutical industry since Pfizer, already the world's biggest pharmaceutical firm, announced a $68 billion takeover of Wyeth in January.

That was followed by U.S. giants Merck agreeing to buy rival Schering-Plough for $41.1 billion in March.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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