Abbott gets U.S. antitrust approval to buy St. Jude Medical

© Reuters. Traders gather at the booth that trades Abbott Laboratories on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange© Reuters. Traders gather at the booth that trades Abbott Laboratories on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Healthcare company Abbott Laboratories (N:) has won U.S. antitrust approval for its proposed $ 25 billion acquisition of medical device maker St. Jude Medical Inc (N:), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.

Abbott agreed to divest two medical devices used in cardiovascular procedures to resolve FTC concerns the acquisition would stifle competition, the commission said in a statement.

“We continue to work to obtain final regulatory approvals and anticipate closing before the end of the year or shortly thereafter,” Abbott spokeswoman Elissa Maurer said in an email.

The company will sell St. Jude’s vascular closure device and Abbott’s steerable sheath to Japan-based Terumo Corp (T:). In October, Abbott said the companies would sell some of their medical device businesses to Terumo for about $ 1.12 billion as a step toward completing the deal.

Vascular closure devices are used to seal small holes made in an artery to prevent bleeding following a coronary angiogram, a special x-ray to see if coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed. Steerable sheaths are used to help place catheters into the heart.

European antitrust enforcers agreed to the deal in November provided the companies divest the two devices. Representatives for Abbott and St. Jude were not immediately available for comment.

Abbott has said the deal will help it compete against larger rivals Medtronic Plc (N:) and Boston Scientific Corp (N:) as hospitals look to cut the number of their suppliers.

St. Jude has been under pressure after short-seller Muddy Waters and research firm MedSec Holdings said in August that its heart devices were riddled with defects that make them vulnerable to cyber hacks. St. Jude has denied the allegations and sued both firms.

In October, St. Jude said it had told doctors to stop implants of its Nanostim leadless cardiac pacemaker, citing reports of problems with electronic data reporting caused by a battery malfunction that could put patients at risk.

There have been no reports that any patient injuries resulted from the malfunction, St. Jude has said.

Abbott has been divesting businesses to focus on its cardiovascular devices and diagnostics business, selling its medical optics division to Johnson & Johnson (N:) for $ 4.3 billion earlier this year. It spun off its pharmaceuticals business as AbbVie Inc (N:) in 2013.

Abbott is trying to pull out of a second deal, the $ 5.8 billion acquisition of diagnostic test maker Alere Inc (N:), which had failed to file financial statements and disclosed probes into billing and foreign sales practices.

The two companies are suing each other.

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