Commission says Merck failed to disclose a crucial research project

The European commission has filed a statement of objection relating to Merck KGaA’s 2014 merger deal with Sigma–Aldrich. The commission alleges that Merck withheld information relating to a significant R&D project that could have influenced the commission’s views on the merger.

Merck has since licensed the covered technology to Honeywell, which bought the sections of Merck and Sigma–Aldrich’s businesses that the Commission dictated needed to be sold off to maintain competition. However, according to commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s statement, this happened ‘almost one year after our decision and only because the commission was made aware of the issue by a third party’.

If Merck is found to have broken the EU’s merger rules, it could be fined up to 1% of its annual turnover. In 2016, Merck made net sales of $15 billion, making the potential fine up to $150 million.