From Wire Reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. antitrust regulators may challenge Spanish healthcare firm Grifols’ planned buy of Talecris Biotheraputics on fears that the merger would reduce supplies and raise prices for plasma-derived medicines to treat a range of autoimmune disorders.

The staff of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is recommending that the agency challenge the $4 billion deal, according to a source knowledgeable about the review cited by Reuters.

“The staff view is that it’s a compelling merger that needs to be challenged. Obviously the commissioners need to weigh in,” said the source who asked not to be quoted to protect his relationship with the agency.

But with a $375 million break-up fee, which Grifols will pay to Talecris if the deal doesn’t go through, the Madrid-based company has an enormous incentive to settle with the FTC.

The FTC declined to comment. Lawyers for Grifols and Talecris had no immediate comment.

Shareholders of Talecris Biotherapeutics (Nasdaq: TLCR) voted to approve a merger with Grifols (GRF.MC) during a special meeting held Monday at the Research Triangle Park Marriott in Durham.

The companies both make medicines like intravenous immune globulin (IVIG), albumin and other products from blood plasma. The deal would bring the number of companies in the space from five to four.

Grifols, which had said it expected a decision by March 6, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Feb. 11 the deal would not close before March 21.

The FTC blocked an earlier Talecris takeover by an Australian company because of antitrust concerns.

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