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EU to clear Baxter's $4 billion buy of Sweden's Gambro: sources

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators will approve a $4 billion bid by Baxter International Inc for Sweden's Gambro AB after the U.S. company offered to sell a unit to ease competition concerns, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The deal, which Baxter announced in December last year, would make it the second-biggest manufacturer in the dialysis market, a sector set to expand in line with rising obesity and diabetes.

Gambro, based in Lund, Sweden, is one of the largest makers of equipment for hemodialysis, which is usually done in a hospital or clinic. Baxter's machines are used for peritoneal dialysis which can be done at home. The U.S. company also makes drug infusion pumps and blood therapy products.

"The European Commission is expected to clear the deal based on the remedy," said one of the people who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Baxter has pledged to sell its global continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) business including contracts, customer orders and manufacturing facilities, which accounts for about 2 percent of its renal product sales.

It has submitted the same offer to regulators in Australia and New Zealand.

The EU antitrust regulator is scheduled to decide on the deal by July 22. The Commission's spokesman for competition policy, Antoine Colombani, said: "This investigation is still ongoing, one cannot prejudge its outcome."

Baxter spokeswoman Deborah Spak said the company was not in a position to comment, adding, "nothing has been announced or confirmed in terms of a remedy."

Baxter and Gambro compete against U.S.-based DaVita and Germany's Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co KGaA, the biggest player in the hemodialysis market.

Baxter is buying Gambro from Swedish investment holding company Investor AB and its partly owned private equity company EQT.

Baxter shares closed 0.2 percent lower at $71.32 on Wednesday. The company's shares have gained 7 percent so far this year.

(Editing by Martin Santa, Elaine Hardcastle and Matthew Lewis)

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