FTC approves $21.3 billion J&J-Synthes deal, pending DePuy sale to Biomet

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission Monday approved Johnson & Johnson's $21.3 billion purchase of medical device maker Synthes, Inc., assuming that J&J sells certain trauma products from its DePuy device division to Biomet, as J&J said it would.

The FTC looks for violations of antitrust laws, hoping to protect consumers from companies that create monopolies in a market. It was thought that FTC clearance was the last hurdle to what will be the largest acquisition in J&J's history and the company hoped to close the sale before its second quarter ends on June 30.

J&J is based in New Brunswick, N.J., and has operations around the globe, including the Philadelphia region. It's DePuy unit is part of J&J's medical device division.

Synthes has headquarters in Switzerland and in West Chester, Chester County.

J&J and Synthes announced in April 2011 that J&J would acquire Synthes for $21.3 billion in cash and J&J stock. Synthes is traded on the Swiss stock exchange, so the payments will be in Swiss francs.

Synthes said last week in a filing that its stock listing could be dropped from the Swiss stock exchange as early as June 14.

Earlier this year, J&J said it was planning to sell all of the trauma products from its DePuy division to Biomet in hopes of satisfying European and American antitrust regulators.

The FTC announcement said its 5-0 approval depended only on J&J selling its system for fixing complex wrist fractures.

"J&J and Synthes are direct competitors for these important systems used in the surgical treatment of traumatic wrist fractures," Richard Feinstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. "This order will ensure that the hospitals and surgeons that use these systems to care for consumers will not face higher prices or reduced innovation in the future."

 The link to the FTC announcement is here.

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