The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it has launched an investigation into the acquisition of several practices by IVC Evidensia.
The inquiry relates to deals involving an equine clinic in Berkshire, plus five other practices in eastern England and two in Wales.
IVC said it was “engaging constructively” with the probe, which is examining whether the deals have or are expected to substantially reduce competition in the areas.
Initial enforcement orders
The CMA has issued initial enforcement orders in relation to the following practices:
- Penrose Veterinary Group
- Kevin Castle (Pet Care) Ltd
- Swayne and Partners Ltd
- Treforest Veterinary Clinic Limited
- Mercer and Hughes Limited
- Swaffham Veterinary Center Ltd
- Anglesey Pet Clinic Ltd
- Chiltern Equine Clinic
The orders say the authority is investigating whether “a relevant merger situation has been created” in relation to each practice that has led to, or is expected to lead to, a “substantial lessening of competition”.
The orders also require each of the acquired practices to conduct their business separately from IVC, with their own distinct brand identities and no significant changes to the businesses’ organizational structure.
IVC has been further instructed to appoint a monitoring trustee to ensure compliance with the orders, which were issued on November 17 and have now been published on the CMA’s website.
An IVC spokesperson said: “IVC Evidence is working closely with the CMA and engaging constructively with this review.”
No timescales have been set out for how long the investigation may last. However, in a separate case, the CMA allowed VetPartners’ takeover of the Goddard Veterinary Group to proceed in September – 10 months after issuing an initial enforcement order.