The Competition Commission (CC) has formally decided that the completed acquisition by Thermo Electron Manufacturing Limited, part of Thermo Electron Corporation (Thermo), of GV Instruments Limited (GVI) would lead to higher prices, or other adverse effects, for customers of some Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) instruments.
Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique used to measure the elements that make up a sample. The technique has many applications, for example to distinguish between synthetic and naturally occurring substances, which could be used to check the authenticity of food. IRMS is a particular type of mass spectrometry. GVI and Thermo are the two largest suppliers of IRMS instruments.
In its final report, published today at www.competition-commission.org.uk, the CC has concluded that the merger would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the markets for two types of IRMS instrument: Gas IRMS and Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS). This could enable the merged company to increase prices to the customers of such instruments, who include university science departments, research institutes and the nuclear industry. This confirms the CC’s provisional findings, which were published in March 2007. (See news release dated 22/03/2007 at: www.competition-commission.org.uk/press_rel/2007/march/ index.htm).
Thermo will now be required to sell either the whole GVI business or those assets relating to the supply of Gas IRMS and TIMS instruments, in order to maintain competition in these markets. Thermo will be required to sell the business, either as a whole or in parts, to a viable competitor or competitors approved by the CC. If Thermo does not achieve a sale, an independent divestiture trustee will be appointed to do so.