Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Service Corporation International and Stewart Enterprises, Inc.; File No. 131-0163
I believe that the FTC was correct in recognizing that the merger of SCI and Stewart would harm competition in the Jewish funeral home market in the DC/MD area. However, the proposed remedy of requiring the divestiture of Edward Sagel Funeral Direction is wholly inadequate to protect competition in the market. Sagel lacks a chapel and adequate facilities to handle the deceased. It is wholly dependent on the SCI funeral home -- Danzansky -- for these services. Its market share has fallen from 25% to 11% in the last three years. If it is divested it is more likely to go out of business than to offer competition to the large and dominant SCI. Moreover SCI has never chosen to compete with Stewart/Hines Rinaldi for the Jewish market provided by the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington contract in the past and there is no reason to think it will once its merger with Stewart is complete. I urge the Commission to revise the proposed consent decree and require the divestiture of Hines Rinaldi, an organization that can provide meaningful competition.