RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG | 09/21/2005

Today´s hearing before the OLG Düsseldorf

  • Today’s hearing before the Düsseldorf Court of Appeals (OLG Düsseldorf) in the appeal against the German Cartel Office regarding the prohibition of the merger of district hospitals in Bad Neustadt
  • The Düsseldorf Court of Appeals (OLG Düsseldorf) today has not taken a decision on the merits of the case. The Court held that the facts of the case have not been established exhaustively.
  • On 5 October 2005 the Court of Appeals will determine and announce the further course of the proceedings.
  • RHÖN-KLINIKUM Group continues its strategy of qualitative growth

In the spring the Federal Cartel Office banned for the first time the merger of community hospitals with a private hospital operator. This concerned the district hospitals in Bad Neustadt and Mellrichstadt, among others. RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG had lodged an appeal against the prohibitive order before the Düsseldorf Court of Appeals. A hearing in this matter took place today. 

In its reasons the Federal Cartel Office assumed that the merger of private and communal hospitals is subject to the merger control provided by the German Act against Restraints on Competition (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen, GWB), applying a very narrow factual and geographical definition of what it believes to constitute the relevant market.

The proceeding is of no small importance, and is seen as a lead case. The question being raised for the first time in Germany is whether and under what conditions it is permissible to apply the rules of German merger control to hospitals. 

RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG holds that merger control rules counteract the goals of the public healthcare system in Germany. These goals notably include cost control, guaranteed quality standards and generalised healthcare delivery.

The Management of the listed hospital group Rhön-Klinikum is convinced of its quality-oriented growth strategy. “The proceeding does not hinder our acquisition strategy. RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG’s share of the German acute hospital market is only two per cent, and our company is not yet present in all regions”, said Wolfgang Pföhler, chairman of the Board of Management. “Currently we are in negotiations with several operators on the takeover of acute hospitals and are certain that – if takeovers do result here – these will not be prohibited.” 

“The final decision will have a fundamental significance going beyond RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG, exerting an impact on the entire healthcare system”, Pföhler said.-