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Two Dutch mental-health care institutions withdraw their merger license application

Two mental health care institutions in the southern Dutch province of Brabant, Stichting Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg Oost Brabant (GGZ Oost Brabant) and Stichting Reinier van Arkel, have withdrawn their application for a merger license. The withdrawal was prompted by the Netherlands Competition Authority's (NMa) negative assessment of the institutions' merger plans. The NMa was planning to announce this week that it would block the merger.

Since December 2009, the NMa has conducted a more extensive investigation into the effects a potential merger between these two mental health care institutions might have. The investigation revealed that a merger would result in competition concerns, and that patients would have less choice. The Dutch Healthcare Authority's opinion in this matter was in line with the NMa's assessment.

Both institutions then submitted proposals (remedies) to the NMa. However, these proposals could not convince the NMa that the antitrust concerns would sufficiently be taken away.

Since 2004, the NMa has taken more than 100 decisions with regard to concentration assessments in the Dutch health care industry. Since 2004, there have been ten concentration cases where the merging parties themselves, in part because of the NMa's objections, decided to cancel their merger plans. In addition, there have been eight cases where the concentration did go through eventually, after modification of the original plans because parties had submitted so-called remedies (proposals) to the NMa to take away antitrust concerns it had identified.