The Competition Commission has approved with conditions the merger of personal care and health group Clicks with Netcare Pharmacies.

Early in June, the two announced that they had entered into a long-term agreement in which Netcare would outsource its 37 retail pharmacies in the Medicross family medical and dental centres. Netcare was also to outsource Clicks the 51 hospital retail front-shop operations in the Netcare hospital division.

Both companies said they believed the transaction would offer an enhanced retail service to both patients and consumers.

In its decision, the Commission recommended a five-year moratorium on retrenchments, and that the merging parties provide training and development in SA.

"Additionally, merging parties agree to procure locally at their current procurement levels," said the Commission.

JSE-listed Netcare is one of the three big private hospital groups in SA, rivalled by Life Healthcare and Mediclinic International. In SA, it operates primary healthcare and dental services at its Medicross clinics, emergency services and hospitals.

Clicks has over 500 stores and is the largest retail pharmacy chain in the country with over 400 in-store pharmacies.

The Tribunal will announce its decision later today.

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