German Equity Firm Deal Hits US Antitrust Snag

Large corporations that want to keep acquiring specialty and emergency veterinary hospitals in the United States appear to be running out of headroom.

Concern that ownership has become too concentrated has prompted the Federal Trade Commission to order National Veterinary Associates (NVA) to sell six such hospitals — three in California and three in Texas.

The magnitude of the intervention, announced this month, is significant. NVA had agreed to assume ownership of the hospitals through a $1.1 billion acquisition of Sage Veterinary Centers, announced last year. Given that Sage owned 16 hospitals at the time, the order means NVA is parting with more than one-third of the assets it had intended to obtain from the deal.

The six clinics, all being sold to Florida-based United Veterinary Care, comprise three in Austin, Texas, and one each in San Mateo, Berkeley and Fairfield, California.

The focus turns now to how the FTC will treat NVA’s acquisition of Ethos Veterinary Health, which owns 23 specialist and emergency hospitals in the US That deal was made public last August, about two months after the Sage acquisition was announced.

Regarding Ethos, FTC spokesperson Betsy Lordan said the regulator doesn’t comment on whether it may take action pertaining to particular deals. It makes a public announcement only if and when it takes action, she said. NVA spokesperson Laura Koester didn’t comment on the Ethos deal and would only refer the VIN News Service to a press release issued by NVA on June 3 stating that the acquistion of Sage had been completed.

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.