On June 7, 2021, the FCO cleared the merger between Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (“Charité”) and the “Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin” (“DHZB”), thus allowing the establishment of the “Deutsches Herzzentrum der Charité”.[1]

Charité is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe and offers, inter alia, cardiac medical services. DHZB is a leading player in cardiac and vascular surgery. As Charité is controlled by the federal state of Berlin and DHZB is organized as an independent foundation within the federal state of Berlin, the FCO considered both to be separate legal entities for merger control purposes.

The FCO found that the merger would not significantly impede effective competition. While Charité may be considered to hold a dominant position in some regional markets (on the basis of the statutory presumption for single-firm dominance which kicks in if a company holds a market share exceeding 40%), the merger would not further strengthen this position. The market share increases brought about by the merger are very small (1%-3%). Further, due to the already existing close cooperation between the parties and the influence of the federal state of Berlin on both parties, the competitive pressure exerted by each party on the other has already been dampened. In addition, there will be sufficient alternatives for the same treatments in Berlin post-transaction. Finally, without going into too much detail, the FCO conceded that the merger will lead to efficiency gains in the health care system.

[1] Charité/Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (B3-67/21), FCO decision dated June 7, 2021. A case summary is only available in German here. A press release is available in German here and in English here.