CSL, Talecris Terminate Merger Agreement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Australian blood products group CSL Ltd (CSL.AX) (CSL.AX) and smaller U.S. rival Talecris Biotherapeutics Holdings Corp have terminated their $3.1 billion merger agreement under pressure from U.S. antitrust regulators, the companies said on Monday.

CSL, which also makes vaccines, said in August that it would buy Talecris, looking to boost its presence in the fast-growing biotherapeutics industry. But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission moved to challenge the acquisition, saying the deal would substantially reduce competition in U.S. markets for four plasma-derivative protein therapies.

CSL said it would pay Talecris a $75 million breakup fee, and the plasma supply contract signed in connection with the merger agreement would remain in effect.

Dr. Brian McNamee, CSL’s chief executive, cited the costs and distractions of a lengthy legal battle with the FTC as the reason for the decision to scrap the deal.

“We are disappointed that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resolved to block the transaction,” he said in a statement. “As we have previously stated, we fundamentally disagree with the FTC case.”

The company had offered to sell about 25 plasma collection centers accounting for 5 percent of U.S. volume, and two branded plasma products used to treat hemolytic disease in newborns and patients with the lung disease emphysema.

The commission had raised concern about those two products as well as other therapies. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)