The Commerce Commission has cleared Evolution Healthcare (NZ) Pty Ltd to acquire all the shares in Austron Ltd, subject to Evolution selling Boulcott Hospital in Lower Hutt.
It’s the third application for clearance the commission has considered involving these parties and the supply of private hospital services in Wellington.
Austron, owned by the Royston Health Trust Board & Medusa Ltd, is the majority owner of Connor Ltd, which in turn owns the Bowen & Wakefield private hospitals in Wellington. Evolution Healthcare (NZ) is part of the Sydney-based Evolution Healthcare Group, owning Boulcott Hospital and a minority stake in Connor.
Evolution’s acquisition of Austron would result in Evolution owning 3 of the 4 private hospitals in Wellington, with Southern Cross Hospital the only independent competitor. However, Evolution has given the commission an undertaking to divest the business & assets of Boulcott Hospital to an independent party which must be approved by the commission.
Commission chair Mark Berry said: “The commission is satisfied that subject to the undertaking, the acquisition will not have, or would not be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening competition in any of the affected markets.
“Evolution’s undertaking to divest its interest in Boulcott Hospital will return the market to its pre-acquisition structure, with 3 competitive options for health insurers, ACC & patients.”
On 11 December, the commission declined an application from Connor to acquire the rest of Acurity Health Group Ltd. But, 6 days later, the commission reversed its decision, subject to an undertaking that Evolution reduce its shareholding in Acurity to pre-acquisition levels.
1 April 2015: Connor appeals initial rejection of Acurity bid
23 December 2014: Acurity bid unconditional
22 December 2014: Undertaking changes commission’s mind on Acurity takeover
12 December 2014: Commission rejects full Acurity takeover
Attribution: Commission release.