October 3, 2014 / 2:45 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-EU regulators open extensive probe into Zimmer, Biomet deal

* Zimmer may have to offer concessions in return for EU okay

* European Commission to decide on deal by Feb. 16 (Adds details)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Oct 3 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators opened on Friday an extensive investigation into U.S. medical device maker Zimmer’s $13.4 billion bid for Biomet, increasing the pressure on Zimmer to offer concessions to allay their concerns.

The deal would make Zimmer the second-largest seller of orthopaedic products in the world behind Johnson & Johnson and also reinforce its presence in the fast-growing sports medicine sector.

The European Commission said the deal may lead to more expensive orthopaedic products, less innovation and choice for consumers, confirming a Reuters story on Oct. 2.

“The proposed acquisition may substantially lessen competition in the markets for hip, knee, elbow and shoulder implants, as well as for other products, such as bone cement, bone cement accessories and a surgical tool called pulse lavage,” the Commission said.

The EU competition authority said it would decide by Feb. 16 whether to clear the deal.

A Well Fargos analyst said Zimmer may divest units that sell products for fixing knees and shoulders as the combined company would have a high market share in these areas. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing Robert-Jan Bartunek and David Evans)

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