A sign on Illumina’s campus in San Diego. Reuters/Mike Blake

BRUSSELS – The European Commission said Friday it had taken interim measures in Illumina’s acquisition of cancer detection test maker Grail Inc., including an order that Grail be kept separate.

Illumina, the San Diego-based gene-sequencing company, announced on Aug 18 that it had completed its $7.1 billion acquisition of Grail even though the Commission had not completed its investigation into the merger.

The review is currently set to run until Feb. 4. The Commission oversees EU competition policy.

The EU order is the first imposition of interim measures following an unprecedented early implementation of a takeover, the Commission said.

The measures provide that Grail be kept separate from Illumina and run by independent managers, that the two companies do not share confidential information, that interactions be kept at arms length and that Grail work on alternative options in case the Commission rejects the merger.

The companies can be fined if they do not comply.

The Commission said the measures were designed to prevent the “potentially irreparable detrimental impact” of the transaction on competition and possible irreversible integration of companies, pending the outcome of its investigation.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop)

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