J&J gains EU clearance for $21 billion Synthes deal
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), which on Thursday secured EU clearance to purchase Swiss medical device maker Synthes Inc SYST.VX for about $21 billion, said it expects the deal to close in the current quarter.
The company is still awaiting similar clearance from U.S. anti-trust regulators, and said in a regulatory filing that the companies agreed to extend the deal's closing date - typically one year from the original merger agreement - by 60 days to June 25.
In a separate filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, J&J said its board had amended company bylaws to allow the roles of chairman and chief executive officer to be held by different individuals.
The move comes a week before Alex Gorsky takes the helm from longtime CEO William Weldon and appears to be a formality after the company previously announced that Weldon would remain chairman of the board.
The Synthes deal is J&J's largest acquisition. It won EU regulatory approval after J&J committed to divest its trauma business in Europe, which had raised competition concerns.
The European Commission, the EU's competition watchdog, said in a statement that the merged group would continue to face competition from several strong rivals and that customers would still have sufficient alternative suppliers.
"We obtained remedies to ensure that competition will remain strong in these markets, for the ultimate benefit of patients and social security systems," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.
(Reporting By Bill Berkrot in New York and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; editing by Carol Bishopric)
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