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NMa: merger Amsterdam healthcare organisations requires in-depth investigation

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has concluded after an initial investigation that the proposed merger between Stichting AMC de Meren and Stichting JellinekMentrum, mental healthcare organisations within the region of the Amsterdam healthcare agency, requires further investigation. The combination of the two healthcare organisations may possibly restrict competition in the markets for adult and geriatric mental healthcare, affecting both in-patient and out-patient services. The NMa has therefore decided that a merger licence is required. If parties were to submit a licence application, the NMa will conduct an in-depth investigation into the merger's competitive effects. In that case, the Authority shall report on its decision whether or not to clear the merger within a 13-week deadline.

Both organisations provide mental healthcare services in the region of the healthcare agency for Amsterdam. This region comprises the cities of Amsterdam and Diemen. Following the proposed merger, the parties concerned will no longer exert competitive pressure on each other. Patients are left with only one other provider in the region with a similar range of mental health services on offer. Also, the merger would produce too high a market share, possibly creating or strengthening a dominant position.

The follow-up investigation of the NMa will amongst other things focus on the level of competitive pressure exerted by other providers of mental healthcare services within and without the region of the Amsterdam healthcare agency. It will also look into whether sufficient options for choice remain for patients in this region. In this regard, their willingness to travel in order to obtain services will also be taken into account.

The NMa has consulted the Dutch Health Authority (NZa) in the course of its investigation. The NZa does not rule out either that the proposed merger may adversely affect the accessibility and affordability of mental healthcare services.

In case of mergers and acquisitions exceeding specified turnover thresholds, the NMa assesses the possible creation or strengthening of a dominant position. Such a dominant position may have adverse effects on the price, quality and diversity of supply. If so, the NMa may either impose conditions on, or oppose, a merger.