RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG | 01/17/2008

Decision in cartel proceeding “Rhön-Grabfeld District Hospitals”

  • Federal High Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) dismisses appeal by RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG
  • Group’s expansion strategy remains unchanged
  • Board of Management chairman Pföhler: “Time for the German legislator to act.”

The Federal High Court of Justice (BGH) yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG in the cartel proceeding “Rhön-Grabfeld district hospitals at Bad Neustadt and Mellrichstadt sites”. It has thus been decided with final effect that a takeover of the hospitals owned by the District of Rhön-Grabfeld is not possible. A written form of the reasons for the judgement is expected to appear in the next two weeks to three months.

On 10 March 2005 the Federal Cartel Office prohibited the takeover of the two district hospitals by RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG. The Company lodged an appeal against this before the Düsseldorf Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht – OLG). On 11 April 2007, the OLG Düsseldorf dismissed the appeal. RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG then appealed to the BGH for a fundamental clarification of this legal issue.

The Group’s growth strategy remains unaffected by today’s decision. Board of Management chairman Wolfgang Pföhler: “This decision does not stand in the way of our growth. Today our Company owns 46 of Germany’s 2,100 hospitals – that corresponds to a market share of barely three percent.” As a result, he added, the growth opportunities are obvious. To quote Pföhler again: “We see a lot of white spots on the map for us which are also entirely unobjectionable from a cartel-law point of view.”

Given the framework conditions for German healthcare policy – shrinking and greying of the population particularly in rural areas, advances in medical technology, decline in public funding – the Company sees no alternative to expanding co-operation among facilities across various sites and sectors. Only in this way could comprehensive healthcare delivery meeting high medical standards be ensured on a sustained basis, also in rural regions.

Pföhler clarifies that especially RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG sees competition as an important key to the further development of the healthcare industry. It is only thanks to competition that new approaches to healthcare delivery can be taken to meet the growing demands of an aging society. The cartel-law approach taken so far does not appear conducive to this goal.

Pföhler therefore repeated his call for a new cartel-law basis for the hospital market: “It is now the task of the legislator to create the basis for people in all regions of Germany to be provided with the best-possible medical care also in the future. Policymakers will have to clarify to what extent the goals of high-quality, uniform and efficient healthcare delivery as provided for by the legislator in the German Social Insurance Code have to be reflected in cartel-law decisions.