German Competition Authority

11/23/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/23/2020 04:36

Bundeskartellamt clears hospital merger in the eastern Ruhr area

Date of issue:23.11.2020

The Bundeskartellamthas no objections to the establishment of a new hospital holding company by the operators of Kath. St.-Johannes-Gesellschaft Dortmund gGmbH, Dortmund, Katholische St. Lukas Gesellschaft mbH, Dortmund, Marienkrankenhaus Schwerte gem. GmbH, Schwerte,and Katholische Klinikum Lünen/Werne GmbH, Lünen. The merger was cleared in the first phase of merger control.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: 'The merger concerns by far the largest hospital group in the Dortmund/eastern Ruhr area. Nevertheless, we have no serious concerns about the merger because the patients affected will be ensured sufficient alternative hospitals to choose from. In the Dortmund area, in particular, several alternative hospitals help to maintain adequate operator diversity.'

The hospital operators participating in the merger run several clinics in Dortmundand in other cities in the eastern Ruhrarea. These include both larger hospitals such as St. Johannes Hospital Dortmund, St. Marienhospital Hammand St. Marien-Hospital Lünenas well as smaller clinics such as St. Elisabeth Krankenhaus Dortmundand St. Christophorus-Krankenhaus Werne. The analysis of the patient flows showed in particular that in the Dortmundarea several hospitals belonging to Klinikum Dortmundand Klinikum Westfalenprovide alternative options, ensuring a sufficient selection of different hospital operators.

Background - Merger control in the hospital sector:

Irrespective of their operators, hospitals are independently active as entrepreneurs and compete with one another. Due to strict legal provisions there is almost no price competition in this sector. It is therefore the main objective of merger control to maintain competition in the quality of healthcare for patients. It is crucial to ensure that patients have sufficient local options to choose from.

In spite of the growing concentration in the hospital sector only very few mergers had to be prohibited by the Bundeskartellamt in recent years. Of the overall 331 transactions reviewed between 2003 and May 2020 only seven were prohibited. Eight merger projects were not notified after they had been critically assessed following an informal advance enquiry.

Press release (pdf)