On 8 December 2008, the Council approved the acquisition of Mauroy Ets. SA by Febelco CVBA. Both companies are active as wholesale distributors of pharmaceutical products. Moreover, Febelco is active as a 'pre-wholesaler' (i.e. offering logistical services to manufacturers of pharmaceutical products) via its subsidiary Pharma Distri Center NV and through Febelfarma CVBA, it has a minority participation in 22 pharmacies.
The Council identified a separate market for the wholesale distribution ("full-line") of pharmaceutical products. In this market the wholesale distributors buy their products from the manufacturers of pharmaceutical products and, in turn, they deliver those products to their customers, the pharmacies. The wholesale distributors are, by law, obliged to have an extensive range of products in stock and to be capable of supplying the pharmacies on a very regular basis (at least daily). The above mentioned obligations differentiate these distributors from "short-line" wholesalers. The short-line wholesalers have a more limited range of products and supply less frequently. There is some substitutability between both types of wholesalers, however the Council decided that the difference in the products offered and in the number of deliveries allows it to distinguish two separate markets. This market definition follows the Commission's decision in Alliance Boots/Cardinal health. In the absence of a horizontal overlap, no precise definition of the upstream (pre-wholesaler) or downstream (pharmacies) product markets was given.
Due to the existence of national rules relating to the frequency and speed of deliveries and the maximum prices for pharmaceutical products, as well as the limited scope of the Belgian territory, the Council indicated that there were indications that the geographical scope of the market for wholesale distribution ("full-line") is national. However, since the frequency of deliveries requires wholesalers to be organised regionally, the Council also assessed the impact of the concentration at the level of Belgian provinces.
The Council decided that the concentration would not result in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position which could significantly impede effective competition in the market, as the parties to the concentration would only have a combined share of the national market of 34% and less than that in those provinces in which both companies are active. The market share of Febelco will also not rise significantly after the acquisition of Mauroy Ets. SA, which is only a small local market player, resulting in only a small horizontal overlap. Furthermore, a large number of competitors (approximately another 20 wholesale distributors) will remain active on this moderately concentrated market. Ultimately, the suppliers and customers of the parties did not raise any real objections against the acquisition, and therefore the Council approved the acquisition without any conditions.