“In depth investigation” opened into health group’s purchase of private Lagos hospital

Competitions authority, AdC, is reported to have opened an “in depth investigation” into the purchase of Lagos’ Hospital São Gonçalo by expanding healthcare group HPA – the organisation that includes Hospital Particular do Algarve in Alvor, among a number of other healthcare units and clinics, and which has just opened a €42 million hospital on the island of Madeira (click here).

Explain stories that appeared in the media this week, AdC embarked on this probe “on the grounds that in light of evidence gathered up till now, it cannot be ruled out that the merger would result in significant impediments to effective competition in the market”, particularly with regard to the provision of private hospital healthcare in the Algarve and outpatient medical consultation services in areas in which São Gonçalo had clinical units.

The São Gonçalo ‘merger’ with HPA – including its clinical offshoots in the western Algarve and lower Alentejo – went ahead at the end of 2017.

According to various reports, AdC looked into the takeover at the time – thus it’s not instantly clear why this ‘in depth investigation’ has been actioned, or whether it’s in fact ‘old news’.

Suffice it to say, a source claims the merger has “significantly increased” HPA’s position of leadership within the region, adding that after this latest probe it could well be decided not to oppose the merger “if it is concluded that it won’t in fact create significant barriers to competition within the relevant markets”.

For now, there is no indication on how long the AdC investigation will take.

A statement by the HPA group has said the AdC scrutiny “fits the standard in this type of case”.

The launch of an in-depth investigation allows the authority “more time to better analyse the concentration at stake”.

The group’s strong view, however, is that the merger will be fully approved, as in its opinion, there is “an absence of any anti-competitive effect” in the deal.

In the meantime, the HPA group “will continue to actively cooperate with the Portuguese competitions authority, as it has done throughout the proceedings”.

Says the statement, “it is important to bear in mind that the acquisition of Hospital São Gonçalo by the HPA Group aims primarily to recover a health care centre on the verge of exiting the market, providing a viable alternative in terms of quality and price for the patients in Western Algarve, who, otherwise, would not have a sustainable health care alternative within the private health sector in this area”.

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