Veterinary service providers Compassion First and National Veterinary Associates, or NVA, have agreed to divest facilities in three locations to MedVet Associates, LLC, to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that Compassion First’s proposed $5 billion acquisition of NVA would violate federal antitrust law.
The FTC alleges that, as proposed, the acquisition would harm competition in three local geographic markets for various specialty and emergency veterinary services by eliminating close, head-to-head competition between Compassion First and NVA. In some markets, the acquisition would result in a merger to monopoly. The acquisition increases the likelihood that Compassion First could unilaterally raise prices or decrease quality for specialty and emergency veterinary services, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that the proposed acquisition would harm competition in the following markets:
- Asheville, N.C./Greenville, S.C.: Specialty veterinary services for internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, and surgery services, and emergency veterinary services;
- Norwalk, Conn./Yonkers, N.Y.: Veterinary neurology and radiation oncology services; and
- Fairfax, Va./Manassas, Va.: Emergency veterinary services.
To remedy the proposed transaction’s anticompetitive effects, the order requires Compassion First and NVA to divest three clinics – NVA’s REACH Specialty Clinic in Asheville, N.C., Compassion First’s Veterinary Care Center in Norwalk, Conn., and Compassion First’s Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia in Manassas, Va. – no later than 10 business days after the acquisition closes. The divestiture buyer, MedVet Associates, LLC, operates specialty and emergency veterinary clinics in other geographic markets and is well positioned to operate the three divested clinics.
Further details about the consent agreement are set forth in the analysis to aid public comment for this matter.
The Commission vote to issue the complaint and accept the proposed consent order for public comment was 5-0. The consent agreement was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 25. Instructions for filing comments appear in the published notice. Comments must be received 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,280.
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