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Abbott, Alere agree to mediate merger dispute

Sept 8 (Reuters) - Medical device maker Abbott Laboratories and Alere Inc agreed on Thursday to work with a mediator to settle their dispute over Abbott's role in obtaining U.S. antitrust clearance for its $5.8 billion takeover of the diagnostics company, but Alere voiced concern about the speed of the process.

The companies are considering using former Delaware Chancellor William Chandler as their mediator, according to court filings. However, he is not available until the end of the month, and Alere wants to start the process immediately.

In a lawsuit filed in Delaware's Court of Chancery in August, Alere accused Abbott of dragging its feet on key antitrust submissions in an effort to sabotage its planned acquisition of Alere.

After announcing the Alere deal, Abbott agreed in April to a $25 billion acquisition of rival St. Jude Medical, which Alere has said is the reason Abbott no longer wants to buy Alere.

Alere has been the target of several federal probes that delayed its ability to complete important regulatory filings on time.

One of the probes, a U.S. Justice Department investigation into its sales practices, was revealed after Abbott agreed to buy Alere in February. A Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its revenue recognition was already public at the time of the deal.

In a rebuttal to Alere's lawsuit, Abbott attributed any delays in the close of the deal to Alere's inability to file its regulatory submissions on time.

Under the current merger agreement, Abbott has nearly eight more months to receive antitrust approval and close the deal.

(Reporting by Carl O'Donnell; Editing by Will Dunham)