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NMa: Further investigates merger health organisations Noord-Brabant

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) will further investigate the merger of two health organisations in Noord-Brabant. According to the NMa, the merger between Stichting Zorggroep West- en Midden Brabant (ZWMB) and Stichting Amarant (Amarant) may strengthen a dominant position in the market for personal home care and home nursing services in Midden-Brabant. Such a dominant position may have adverse effects on the price, quality and diversity of the supply of personal care and nursing in Midden-Brabant. The NMa has concluded, therefore, that a licence is required for this merger.

The organisations concerned provide personal home care and home nursing services, as well as domestic home care and support services. On the basis of the investigation so far, the NMa's concerns concentrate on the market for personal care and nursing services in the region of the health agency for Midden-Brabant. Though of old ZWMB focuses on the elderly and Amarant on the mentally handicapped, this difference in target groups becomes less distinct with regard to home care services. This is partly the result of abolishing target group divisions [so called 'ontschotting'] in the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act [AWBZ], which has done away with obstacles to health organisations intent on providing home care services to various target groups. For the time being, therefore, the NMa regards the home care market for the elderly and mentally handicapped as a single market.

ZWMB disposes of more than three quarters of the market for personal home care and home nursing services in the region of Midden-Brabant. In this market, Amarant constitutes one of its larger competitors and a competitor with the potential to broaden its activities in the field of personal home care and nursing. After the merger, this competitor would disappear, allowing for a possible strengthening of the dominant position of ZWMB.

From the perspective of competition, the NMa has no cause for concern as regards the markets for domestic care and support.

If ZWMB and Amarant submit a request for a license, the NMa has to prepare its decision on a merger license within a period of 13 weeks. In the licensing phase, the NMa will perform a thorough-going investigation into the actual consequences of desegregation and the extent to which competitive pressure may be exerted among health organisations.