Sequencing giant will sell off its former spin-out in accordance with regulator orders


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Grail was spun out from Illumina in 2016, but regulators objected when the company tried to re-acquire it without waiting for approval

Sequencing giant Illumina is set to sell off Grail, as directed by both the US and EU competition authorities. Illumina’s appeal against the US Federal Trade Commission’s decisions regarding the merger were denied, and so the company has accepted that it must relinquish control of Grail. The cancer detection firm will either be sold off (if a suitable buyer is found) or floated separately on the stock market.

Illumina’s troubles with the Grail deal began in 2021, when – under threat of the $8 billion (£6 billion) acquisition collapsing and a large break-up fee – the company decided to complete the transaction before either US or EU regulators had approved it.

However, both regulators subsequently ruled the deal anti-competitive and demanded its reversal, given that Illumina’s control over the sequencing technology that both Grail and its competitors rely on for cancer detection could be exploited to give Grail an unfair advantage in the market. The EU also imposed a record €432 million (£372 million) fine in July 2023.