District of Columbia
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Service Corporation International and Stewart Enterprises, Inc.; File No. 131-0163
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 is basically a storefront and 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 highly unlikely to remain an effective competitor in the market. Moreover, with the control of both Danzansky and Hines Rinaldi, SCI will still have the incentive and ability to deter the important competition provided by the Jewish Funeral Committee of Greater Washington contract. I urge the Commission to revise the proposed consent decree and require the divestiture of Hines Rinaldi. I think it is obvious that despite providing a reasonable price for Jewish funerals under the Jewish Funeral Committee of Greater Washington contract, Hines-Rinaldi was making a profit under their contract. Without competition, they would be able to increase their prices and make a much greater profit.