The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) has called on the health ministry to stop a potential merger between Cleopatra Hospitals Group, one of Egypt's largest private hospital groups, and Alameda Healthcare, saying the deal constitutes a monopolistic practice that would negatively impact people's rights and the country's economy, a source at the authority said.
The two groups are currently in talks over a potential merger that would result in a giant unit with around 2,000 beds, the ECA official, who requested anonymity, told Ahram Online on Thursday.
In a letter sent to the health ministry, the competition watchdog warned that the merger would raise the price of medical services offered to patients and limit their options for access to healthcare services at reasonable prices. It added that the deal would create a "dominant entity" that would hamper the entry of new investors into the Egyptian healthcare sector.
The Cleopatra Hospitals Group owns six of Cairo's most prominent private hospitals, including Cleopatra, Cairo Specialised, Nile Badrawi, Al Shorouk, Queens and ElKateb hospitals.
Alameda Healthcare owns As-Salam International Hospital and Dar Al-Fouad Hospital in 6 October and Nasr City, as well as a number of medical laboratories and rehabilitation centres.
The agency called on the ministry to apply a 2014 decision which stipulates that the sale or change of the legal structure of private hospitals and pharmaceutical firms requires approval from the ministry after ensuring it would not undermine patients' rights or affect their access to health services.
Health ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.
Cleopatra, which had previously announced plans for expansion, said in a stock exchange disclosure that it had not reached a final decision on any deal, local media reported.
A source from one of the group's hospitals contacted by Ahram Online said no information about the deal had been shared at the last board meeting of the group.