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Could FTC scrutiny of the Roche-Spark merger scuttle future pharma deals? Analysts are fretting

August 02, 2019 / Arlene Weintraub
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When Roche delayed its planned 4.8 billion dollars purchase of gene therapy developer Spark Therapeutics for the fifth time earlier this week, citing the Federal Trade Commissions FTCs review of the deal, one burning question emerged among pharma watchers- What the heck is the FTCs problem? Shortly thereafter, another troubling question bubbled up- If the FTC is going to be this nitpicky about one giant pharma company’s effort to buy a relatively small player, could that end up scuttling future deals? Bloomberg surveyed nine firms that specialize in mergers and acquisitions, and six of them said they're worried the FTC has changed its approach to reviewing deals. A similar majority said the change—which has yet to be fully understood—could give future dealmakers second thoughts. “You have to start wondering if this scrutiny will slow down or prohibit these kinds of deals, which would be a huge deal for the sector,” said Brad Loncar, CEO of Loncar Inves...