FTC Alters Final Consent Order in Response to Public Comments, Preserving Competition for Specialty and Emergency Veterinary Services in 10 U.S. Localities

Mars to divest 12 veterinary clinics as a condition of acquiring pet care company VCA Inc.

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Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that Mars, Incorporated’s $9.1 billion acquisition of pet care company VCA Inc. would violate federal antitrust laws. Under the Order, Mars is required to divest 12 clinics in 10 localities to three divestiture buyers: National Veterinary Associates, Pathway Partners Vet Management Company and PetVet Care Centers.

As announced in August 2017, the complaint alleged that if the acquisition had taken place without a remedy, it would have substantially lessened competition for certain specialty and emergency veterinary services in 10 U.S. localities by eliminating head-to-head competition between Mars specialists in the area and those of VCA. In response to comments received during the designated public comment period, the Commission modified the proposed order. The change in the order allows long-standing arrangements that permit veterinarians at different clinics to cover for each other temporarily to continue, while maintaining the provisions necessary to ensure an effective remedy.  Specifically, the modified order adds language to allow on-call or “relief” veterinarians to perform work at both Mars clinics and divested clinics.

The Commission vote approving the final Order was 2-0. (FTC File No. 171 0057; the staff contact is Michael Barnett, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2362.)

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