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Megamerger: Bonitas takeover of Liberty Health gets nod

Aug 24 2016 20:05

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Cape Town – The Competition Tribunal has approved, what is believed to be one of the largest mergers in history, between Bonitas Medical Fund and the ailing Liberty Medical Scheme without conditions.

"The Commission had found some overlap of the merging parties’ activities in relation to the administration and managed care services, but the services are carried out contractually by third parties, not by the merging parties themselves," said Competition Tribunal registrar Lerato Motaung said on Wednesday.
"It also felt that the merging parties would continue to face competition from other medical aid schemes."
Bonitas and Liberty are active in the medical schemes industry and operate as open medical schemes. This means there are no restrictions on membership based on employment or profession and they are open to the general public.
Liberty Health, which reported a loss of R11m for the six months to end-June compared to R22m from the prior period, has been long in the market for a merger. It was in talks with Spectramed on more than one occasion for a potential takeover.
Bonitas and Liberty noted in a joint press release in March that if the merger is successful, it will continue under Bonitas’ name.

It pointed out that consolidation amongst medical schemes is an increasing trend which is indicative of the current healthcare industry. They added that the benefits of the potential amalgamation are numerous.
The new scheme would have a broader national footprint; better economies of scale to negotiate better rates and improve provider networks. Bonitas’ strong financial stability and generally predictable claims history should also translate to more value for members of the new scheme.

Bonitas and Liberty’s options will remain unchanged for the rest of 2016 with any changes to benefits or options expected to take place in 2017.