U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 39 mins

EU antitrust regulators to decide on Novartis, GSK deals by January 14

The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in Basel October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators will decide by Jan. 14 whether to clear two asset trade deals between Swiss drugmaker Novartis and British rival GlaxoSmithKline, the European Commission said on Monday.

Novartis is buying GSK's oncology products for $14.5 billion plus another $1.5 billion that depends on the results of a trial in melanoma, boosting its world No. 2 position in cancer behind Roche Holding AG.

GSK in turn is acquiring Novartis' vaccines business, excluding flu, for $5.25 billion plus potential milestone payments of up to $1.8 billion and ongoing royalties. The companies also plan a joint venture in consumer healthcare.

The Commission can either clear the deals, demand concessions if it sees potential competition issues or open a lengthy investigation into the takeovers.us

The EU antitrust watchdog last week cleared U.S. medical device maker Medtronic's $43 billion takeover of Covidien Plc on condition Covidien sell its drug-coated balloon catheter business.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens)