Competition & Markets Authority
Vet business takeovers raise competition concerns for pet owners
CMA’s initial investigation into Medivet’s purchase of multiple independent vet businesses highlights potential price and quality issues
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has outlined its preliminary concerns that the purchase of twelve independent veterinary businesses by Medivet Group Limited (Medivet) could lead to worse quality, a more limited range of services or higher prices for pet owners in affected areas across England and Northern Ireland.
The CMA opened its investigation into Medivet’s purchase of seventeen independent veterinary businesses in March this year. Medivet is a large multinational veterinary group with over 400 veterinary centres across the UK that offer veterinary services primarily to small animals, including at 24-hour centres.
This is the fourth CMA investigation into acquisitions in the veterinary sector in the last two years and comes against a backdrop of an increasing number of transactions in which corporate groups purchase small, independent veterinary services across the UK.
Medivet’s purchases took place between September 2021 and September 2022. Medivet did not sufficiently publicise the purchases and chose not to notify the CMA at that time. The CMA identified potential concerns as part of its ongoing monitoring of mergers and acquisitions and opened initial investigations in March 2023.
Following these investigations, the CMA found competition concerns in relation to 12 transactions regarding the supply of veterinary services for small animals (typically household pets) in 34 local areas across England and Northern Ireland. The CMA also found competition concerns in relation to two of these twelve transactions regarding the supply of out-of-hours veterinary services to small animals in five local areas in England.
In each of these deals, the CMA found that the combined businesses would account for a significant proportion of the veterinary services offered in each location of concern. The CMA found no competition concerns arising for three purchases (The Hollies, Canine Healthcare and Withy Grove) and in April found that two purchases (Monument Vets and Stanhope Park) did not meet the statutory requirements to be investigated further.
Sorcha O’Carroll, Senior Director of Mergers, at the CMA, said:
There are around 17 million pet-owning homes across the UK with consumers spending around £4 billion a year on vets and other services for pets. Particularly while household budgets are already stretched, it’s crucial that we ensure continued access to good quality pet care at a fair price.
We continue to receive concerns that independent vet practices being bought out by a single company could lead to a loss of competition at a local level resulting in higher prices or lower quality services.
We will continue to monitor the impact of these types of deals so we can take the necessary action to ensure reduced competition won’t reduce the overall availability and quality of local veterinary services.
Medivet has 5 working days to offer legally binding proposals to the CMA to address the competition concerns identified. The CMA would then have a further 5 working days to consider whether to accept these instead of referring the cases to Phase 2 investigations.
For more information, visit the Medivet case page.
Notes to Editors
Recent reports indicate there are 17 million pet owning homes across the UK with consumer expenditure on vets and other services for pets in the UK estimated to be around £4 billion between July 2020 and June 2021. In recent years, the ownership of vets’ practices across the UK has changed, with many practices being acquired by a small number of corporate groups, such as Medivet. While independent veterinary practices accounted for 89% of the UK industry in 2013, this share had fallen to less than half (45%) by 2021.
Medivet (Medivet Group Limited) is a large multinational veterinary group, which is controlled by the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
The CMA investigated Medivet’s purchase of 17 independent veterinary businesses: All Creatures Clinic Limited; Barton Companion Animal Services Limited; I T Kalogera Holdings Ltd (including its subsidiary I T Kalogera Limited) (t/a Brockwell Vets); The assets and business of the veterinary practice under the name Caddy Veterinary Surgery/Practice; Canine Healthcare Limited (t/a Vet Value) (Canine Healthcare); E Street Limited (t/a Elizabeth Street Veterinary Clinic); Ferring Street Vets Limited; Fitzalan House Veterinary Practice Ltd; The Hackney Vet Limited; The assets and business of the veterinary practice under the name Hollies Veterinary Surgery (The Hollies); the assets and business of the veterinary practice under the name Iffley Vets; Monument Vets Ltd (Monument Vets); The Oxford Cat Clinic Limited; Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital Limited (Stanhope Park); The assets and businesses of the veterinary practices under the name The Vet on Richmond Hill & The Vet in St Margaret’s; The Vet Station Limited; and Withy Grove Veterinary Clinic Limited (Withy Grove).
Geographic locations affected by the 12 transactions in which the CMA found concerns include: Orpington (Chelsfield, Locksbottom); South Humberside (Barton-Upon-Humber); London (Herne Hill, Belgravia, Hackney, Richmond, Twickenham); County Antrim (Randalstown); West Sussex (Ferring, East Preston, Littlehampton, Angmering, Arundel, Rustington); Leicestershire; Oxfordshire (Oxford, Wheatley, Botley, Marston) and Hertfordshire (Hemel Hempstead).
The 17 transactions are separate mergers, although the CMA has conducted its investigations into all these transactions in parallel. Each of the 17 transactions were completed between September 2021 and September 2022. The CMA found that the transactions were not sufficiently made public at the time of completion for it to consider them at that time and decided to investigate them of its own initiative after the CMA’s mergers intelligence function learned of them at a later stage.
The CMA served initial enforcement orders in December 2022 requiring each of the companies to operate independently, as they did before the purchase. The orders remain in force. Details of the orders can be found on the Medivet’s case page inquiries page.
As announced on 6 April 2023, Medivet’s purchases of Monument Vets and Stanhope Park will not be referred for further investigation. The CMA found that these purchases did not meet the criteria to be investigated as a merger because neither the turnover test nor the share of supply tests (set out in section 23 of the Enterprise Act 2002) were met.
In addition, the CMA did not find competition concerns in relation Medivet’s purchases of The Hollies, Canine Healthcare and Withy Grove. Based on compelling evidence, the CMA concluded that The Hollies would have closed absent Medivet’s purchase and as a result, did not find competition concerns for Medivet’s purchases of The Hollies and Canine Healthcare (which was in the same local area as The Hollies). In conducting its local area assessment, the CMA found that Medivet’s purchase of Withy Grove would not result in competition concerns.
This is the fourth group of veterinary transactions the CMA has looked at in recent years, the others being CVS/The Vet, VetPartners/Goddard, and IVC/Multiple independent veterinary practices.
For media enquiries, contact the CMA press office on 020 3738 6460 or email@example.com
All enquiries from the general public should be directed to the CMA’s General Enquiries team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3738 6000.
Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vet-business-takeovers-raise-competition-concerns-for-pet-owners
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