Mediclinic’s bid to expand into the North West has been dealt a blow after the Competition Tribunal ruled against the private hospital group’s plans to acquire a rival company. The Competition Tribunal announced on Wednesday that it had prohibited its proposed merger with Matlosana Medical Health Services (MMHS) because it would substantially lessen competition in the region. Mediclinic still has the option of challenging the decision at the Competition Appeal Court. The tribunal’s decision highlights the conundrum facing JSE-listed private hospital groups, which include Mediclinic and its rivals Netcare and Life Healthcare. All three groups have sought to counter the limited potential for increasing their domestic footprint with offshore ventures, with varying degrees of success. “They are caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Fairtree Capital portfolio manager Jean-Pierre Verster. “There is acknowledgement by investors that the three big hospital groups have already got a ...

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