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EU OKs Boston Scientific-Guidant deal

/ Source: The Associated Press

Boston Scientific Corp. said Tuesday it has won antitrust clearance from the European Commission for its $27 billion acquisition of medical devices rival Guidant Corp., but is still awaiting final approval from the Federal Trade Commission.

Boston Scientific said it continues to expect the acquisition to close around the middle of this month.

Tuesday’s European clearance came six days after Boston Scientific won approval from the FTC’s staff by entering into consent agreements to resolve antitrust issues. The company didn’t provide details on the agreements, but said they don’t require major changes to the transaction.

FTC spokesman Mitch Katz declined to comment Tuesday on when the commission would complete its review.

To satisfy concerns that the combined company could command too great a share of the market for heart stents, Boston Scientific agreed before the regulatory reviews to sell a piece of Guidant’s business, including its drug-coated stents, to a third company. Abbott Laboratories Inc., based near Chicago, will pay $4.1 billion in cash, provide a $900 million loan to Boston Scientific and acquire $1.4 billion in Boston Scientific stock.

In addition to approving the Boston Scientific-Guidant deal, European regulators cleared the transaction involving Abbott Labs, Boston Scientific said.

Shareholders of Natick-based Boston Scientific and Indianapolis-based Guidant overwhelmingly approved their companies’ transaction March 31.

Boston Scientific trumped Johnson & Johnson more than two months ago in a bidding war to buy Guidant and its portfolio of stents, defibrillators, pacemakers and other medical devices. In outbidding J&J, Boston Scientific agreed to pay Guidant shareholders nearly $4.5 million a day in interest for each day after March 31 that the acquisition fails to close.