The European Commission yesterday referred scrutiny of the pounds 650m bid by Gehe

The European Commission yesterday referred scrutiny of the pounds 650m bid by Gehe of Germany for Lloyds Chemists back to the UK authorities. The bid now looks certain to be sent before the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, which is already looking at an earlier offer from UniChem, a rival British chemists chain, thus causing it to lapse.

Karel van Miert, the commissioner in charge of competition policy, said Gehe-Lloyds and UniChem would have over two-thirds of the wholesale market to independent chemists following a merger and the market share would be "significantly higher" in certain regions. They would be the only two wholesalers operating in the whole of the UK and supplying a full range of pharmaceutical products.

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