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ACM clears acquisition of Thio pharmacies by pharmacy group BENU Apotheken

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has cleared the acquisition of Dutch pharmacy group Thio by pharmacy group BENU Apotheken. BENU Apotheken is a subsidiary of prescription-drug wholesaler Brocacef, and owns several hundreds of pharmacies in the Netherlands. Thio will sell 20 of its pharmacies. There are almost 2,000 public pharmacies in the Netherlands. ACM has established, as it did in 2016, that hardly any competition exists between the BENU and Thio pharmacies. Since 2012, the Thio pharmacies have been partner pharmacies of Brocacef, and they jointly negotiate with health insurers. Moreover, overlap between BENU and Thio pharmacies is limited. In regions where both of them are active, sufficient competition will remain.

Strengthening Brocacef’s position

A number of market participants, including several health insurers, did express concerns about this acquisition. In addition, they also pointed out that Brocacef, since its 2016 acquisition of Mediq, for which it had to sell a large number of pharmacies in order to get the merger cleared, has acquired many pharmacies. They argue that these acquisitions have helped strengthen BENU’s competitive position. According to the health insurers, that makes it more difficult to continue to be able to negotiate effectively with BENU.

However, the developments that health insurers have pointed out are unrelated to the acquisition at hand. ACM is therefore unable to take them into account in its assessment of the acquisition.