The ACCC is seeking views on a proposed court-enforceable undertaking offered by Australian Clinical Labs Limited (ACL) in relation to its proposed acquisition of Healius Limited.
ACL and Healius supply pathology services to the community, private and public hospitals, and veterinary clinics. They compete closely with one another and offer services under well-known brands familiar to many Australians.
The ACCC published a statement of issues in July 2023 in which it identified significant preliminary competition concerns that the acquisition would be likely to substantially lessen competition in Australian pathology services markets.
By combining ACL and Healius, ACL would become the largest provider of community pathology services in every state and territory in which they both operate, with more than 50 per cent of Approved Collection Centres (ACCs) across Australia.
“We are now seeking feedback from stakeholders on whether the draft undertaking offered by ACL would be capable of addressing the competition concerns,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.
“While the ACCC has decided to publicly consult on the undertakings, this should not be interpreted to mean that these or any other form of undertakings will ultimately be accepted.”
The proposed undertaking would require ACL to divest 60 ACCs in Perth, 25 ACCs across regional Victoria, and 14 ACCs in the Northern Territory.
The divested assets would represent approximately 16 per cent of the combined ACC network of ACL and Healius in Western Australia and 2 per cent in Victoria. It would also represent 100 per cent of ACL’s ACCs in the Northern Territory.
The proposed undertaking does not contain any commitments by ACL relating to the other areas of concern identified by the ACCC, namely:
- community pathology in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia;
- public pathology in Victoria;
- veterinary pathology; and
- private in-patient services.
The ACCC invites submissions on the proposed undertaking by 17 October 2023.
The draft undertaking incorporating the proposed remedy can be found here: Australian Clinical Labs Limited - Healius Limited
Australian Clinical Labs Limited (ACL) and Healius Limited (Healius) provide human pathology services to out-patients, in-patients (of public and private hospitals), and commercial and government customers. ACL and Healius are both listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
ACL operates its human pathology services in every state and territory except Tasmania.
Healius operates human pathology services through various brands across Australia – Laverty Pathology (NSW and ACT), Dorevitch Pathology (Victoria), QML Pathology (Queensland), Abbott Pathology (South Australia), Western Diagnostic Pathology (Western Australia and Northern Territory), and TML Pathology (Tasmania).
ACL also provides veterinary pathology services in South Australia and Victoria through its Gribbles Veterinary brand, while Healius supplies veterinary pathology services through its Vetnostics (NSW and ACT), Australian Specialised Animal Pathology Laboratory (South Australia and Victoria), QML Vetnostics (Queensland), Vetpath (Western Australia and Northern Territory), and TML Vetnostics (Tasmania) brands.
Healius also operates diagnostic imaging services.
Other pathology providers in the market include Sonic and 4Cyte, as well as not-for-profit and public pathology providers.
More information on the relevant market, including market share data, can be found in the Statement of Issues.