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FTC seeks more details on Covidien takeover

Federal antitrust regulators have asked for more information on medical device giant Medtronic Inc.’s plan to buy Mansfield health care supplies company Covidien PLC, raising the possibility the $42.9 billion acquisition could be delayed.

In a regulatory filing, Minneapolis-based Medtronic said the Federal Trade Commission wanted “additional information and documentary material” on the proposed deal. The move extends the waiting period for the agency’s antitrust review until 30 days after the parties have complied with the FTC’s request.

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At the time the takeover plan was unveiled in June, Medtronic and Covidien said they expected it would undergo regulatory review and be completed by the end of this year or early next year. The parties Friday said that timetable hasn’t changed.

The filing did not indicate what information the regulators are seeking beyond what was submitted when the companies initially gave notice of their intent to merge. The terms of the deal include plans for Medtronic to move its headquarters to Ireland, where Covidien is based for tax purposes, in a so-called inversion meant to lower Medtronic’s corporate tax rate.

That practice, which has become increasingly popular among life sciences companies, has come under intense scrutiny in Washington, where Obama administration officials and members of Congress have been considering ways to halt the exodus.

Last month, North Chicago, Ill., drug maker AbbVie Inc. said it would pay nearly $55 billion for Lexington biotech Shire PLC, another Massachusetts company with an Irish address, and also planned an inversion.

FTC spokeswoman Elizabeth Lordan confirmed that the agency was investigating the deal but declined to comment further.

Medtronic said the FTC wanted ‘additional information and documentary material’ on the Covidien deal.

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Such FTC requests are common in large merger deals.

“We intend to cooperate fully with the FTC, and we continue to expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2014 or early 2015,” Medtronic spokesman Fernando Vivanco said. “We do not intend to comment on the specifics of the FTC’s request.”

Covidien spokesman Peter Lucht said, “Obviously, we’ll cooperate with the FTC, and still expect to close within the timetable that was previously announced.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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