CMA considering Medivet undertakings on 11 practice acquisitions

CMA considering Medivet undertakings on 11 practice acquisitions

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has outlined its preliminary concerns that the purchase of  several independent veterinary businesses by Medivet Group Limited could lead to worse quality, a more limited range of services or higher prices for pet owners in affected areas across Northern Ireland and England.

The CMA opened its investigation into Medivet’s purchase of  17 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., with the CMA stating that the company did not sufficiently publicise the purchases and chose not to notify them at that time.

Following its 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 12 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.”

In proposals submitted to the CMA, Medivet and CVC Capital Partners jointly offered undertakings to reconstitute and divest the assets and business of the practice known as Caddy Veterinary Surgery/Practice, and the divestment of 10 other businesses.

These include:

  • All Creatures Clinic
  • The assets and business of the veterinary practice under the name Iffley Vets
  • The Oxford Cat Clinic
  • The Vet Station
  • Barton Companion Animal Services
  • I T Kalogera Holdings (including its subsidiary I T Kalogera)
  • Ferring Street Vets
  • The Hackney Vet
  • E Street (trading as Elizabeth Street Veterinary Clinic)
  • The assets and businesses of the veterinary practices under the name The Vet on Richmond Hill and The Vet in St Margaret’s

In a statement, released after making its undertakings to the CMA, Medivet said: “While we do not agree with the decision and we remain very disappointed with the outcome of the review, we will now, in the interest of the patients, clients and people in the clinics, focus on delivering the remedies put forward to the CMA.”