For the first time, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has prohibited a merger between two public hospitals. The FCO defined the relevant market as comprising all hospitals in the area of Greifswald, such as general and specialized hospitals with exception of rehabilitation and outpatient care institutions. It held that the already existing dominant position of the university hospital would have been strengthened by the merger. By prohibiting the merger, the FCO disregarded the arguments brought forward by the hospitals that the prohibition would infringe the freedom of research and teaching protected by the German constitution. Mr. Boge, the president of the FCO, argued that public authorities were, with regard to their commecial activities, bound by the very same standards of law as private undertakings. This holds especially true with regard to markets in which the state acts in competition with private undertakings.
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