7 November 2012

Dutch competition authority clears hospital merger after Phase II inquiry

On 2 November 2012 , the Dutch competition authority (NMa) cleared the merger of Dutch hospitals Orbis and Atrium after a second phase investigation without imposing conditions. The NMa concluded that the merger results in a high combined market share and that the merging hospitals are each other’s closest competitors in Limburg, the most southern province of the Netherlands. However, the NMa notes in its decision that health insurers are likely to have an increased ability and incentives to exercise buyer power and constrain the pricing behaviour of hospitals in a market that is in transition. The NMa notes that the exercise of buyer power may lead to a widening of the relevant geographic market, which would reduce market shares. This, combined with the offer of the merging hospitals to not increase prices more than an agreed pricing index for the next couple of years, resulted in clearance of the merger. RBB advised both Orbis and Atrium alongside legal advisors Loyens & Loeff.

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