Following the completed acquisition of four Abbey hospitals by General Health Group (GHG), the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is considering whether to accept an undertaking by GHG to divest Abbey Carrick Glen hospital, a private hospital in Ayrshire, due to competition concerns in the local area. This offer of an undertaking in lieu of a reference to the Competition Commission arises because the OFT concluded that the acquisition by GHG would give rise to a substantial lessening of competition in respect of the local market around Abbey Carrick Glen hospital.
The OFT considered, and ruled out, other alternatives to an undertaking in lieu of a reference. Firstly, the OFT decided that it would not exercise its de minimis discretion despite turnover in the affected market being under the threshold as it believed that a straightforward undertaking would remedy the situation. Secondly, the OFT decided against imposing a requirement for GHG to source an upfront buyer for the Abbey Carrick Glen hospital as it found the burden of this would not be proportionate to the size of the affected market.