Thermo Fisher scraps Roper deal after U.K. antitrust hurdle

(Reuters) - Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc and Roper Technologies Inc said on Monday they have mutually agreed to terminate Thermo Fisher’s deal to buy Roper’s unit Gatan Inc owing to challenges in obtaining regulatory approval in the United Kingdom.

The $925 million deal, announced last June, attracted the scrutiny of Britain’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which launched an in-depth inquiry in January into whether the deal could affect competition.

Thermo Fisher, the world’s largest maker of scientific instruments, wanted to strengthen its electron microscopy business with the acquisition of Gatan, which produces highly specialized “peripherals” such as filters and cameras, used in microscopes.

The CMA has raised concerns that the deal could enhance Thermo Fisher’s “already strong market position” and that prices of microscopes could go up and quality could suffer.

It also noted the merger could hurt competition for certain peripherals.

While the deal falling through is disappointing, it is not expected to materially change Thermo Fisher’s capital allocation framework or hit its 2019 earnings per share outlook, Evercore ISI analyst Ross Muken wrote in a research note.

“Frankly, they could buy back stock and get a similar level of accretion, or more likely, will continue their focus on tuck-in M&A,” he said.

The termination does not affect the existing long-term supply agreement under which Gatan supplies filter systems, cameras and software to Thermo Fisher’s electron microscopy business, the companies said in a statement.

Shares of Thermo Fisher and Roper were trading up about 1% in early morning trading.

Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Shinjini Ganguli