The Federal Trade Commission today approved Corning Inc.'s $730 million purchase of Discovery Labware, Inc., but is requiring it to provide assets and assistance to a fledgling competitor to settle concerns that the deal is anti-competitive.
Under the terms of the FTC consent decree, Corning will help new competitor Sigma-Aldrich Co. manufacture tissue culture treated dishes, multi-well plates and flasks - surfaces used by researchers at drug companies, biotech firms and universities to grow cells.
Corning will supply the items to Sigma-Aldrich to market under Sigma-Aldrich's own brand until the company is able to make them itself - an arrangement that will "immediately replace the competition lost as a result of Corning's acquisition of Discovery Labware," according to the FTC. Corning and Discovery are the two leading makers of the products.
Headquartered in Corning, NY, Corning is best-known as a manufacturer of speciality glass, ceramics and plastic. The company in April announced it was acquiring a majority interest in Becton, Dickinson and Co.'s Discovery Labware, which is based in Bedford, Mass. The goal: to boost annual revenue from Corning's life sciences division by 40 percent and "catapult the segment toward its goal of being a $1 billion business by 2014," according to the company.
Corning was represented before the FTC by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Steven Sunshine, who is based in the firm's Washington office and heads the North American antitrust practice.
Sunshine has had a busy month. He also represented Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. in its $5.9 billion purchase of Swiss drug maker Actavis Inc., which was approved by the FTC (with divestitures) earlier in October.