Summary of transaction:
- the names of the merger parties;
EQT Fund Management S.à r.l. (“EQT”) and Widex Holding A/S (“Widex Holding”) (collectively, the “Parties”).
a description of the transaction;
The creation of a full function joint venture (the “Joint Venture”), which will combine the activities of Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) (“Sivantos”) and Widex A/S (“Widex”) (being subsidiaries of EQT and Widex Holding respectively) under a newly incorporated joint venture entity (the “MergeCo”) (the “Proposed Transaction”).
- a description of the business activities of the merger parties worldwide and in Singapore;
Sivantos is headquartered in Singapore and manufactures hearing aids as well as complementary accessories. Sivantos manufactures and assembles hearing aids at various sites around the world. Sivantos supplies traditional and body-worn hearing aids to third-party retailers, and provides the respective after sales support, including warranty support, servicing of hearing aid devices, repairs, and maintenance.
Widex is an international retailer of traditional hearing aids and operates three retail outlets in Singapore. Widex manufactures and assembles hearing aids. Its hearing aids are sub-assembled at various sites around the world, including in Europe, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Widex also supplies traditional hearing aids to government and private hospitals.
- a description of the overlapping goods or services, including brand names;
The Parties overlap in the supply of:
- behind-the-ear (“BTE”) hearing aids;
- Super-power BTE hearing aids;
- receiver-in-the-canal (“RIC”) hearing aids;
- in-the-ear (“ITE”) hearing aids;
- in-the-canal (“ITC”) hearing aids;
- completely-in-canal (“CIC”) hearing aids; and
- invisible-in-the-canal (“IIC”) hearing aids,
and in the provision of the associated after sales support, including warranty support, servicing of hearing aid devices, repairs, and maintenance (collectively referred to as the “Overlapping Products”).
- a description of substitute goods or services;
Personal Sound Amplification Products and Assistive Listening Devices, hearphones/smart earbuds, and partially implanted hearing systems are all designed to assist hearing, and in this way serve a similar purpose as hearing aids.
- the applicant’s views on:
a. definition of the relevant market(s);
The Parties are of the view that it is appropriate to define the market as that for traditional hearing aids, including body-worn hearing aids, including accessories and services that are intrinsically linked to the supply of hearing aids, but excluding cochlear implants, Personal Sound Amplification Products/Assistive Listening Devices and diagnostic instruments.
The Parties consider that the relevant geographic market should be Singapore.
b. the way in which competition functions in this market;
The Parties submit that competing firms in the Relevant Product Market compete mainly in terms of price, product innovation, service, and tender processes in Singapore.
c. barriers to entry and countervailing buyer power; and
Barriers to entry
The Parties submit that for an existing manufacturer of hearing aids overseas, entry into the Singapore market would simply involve (i) setting up local distribution capabilities and/or facilities, and (ii) registering their products with HSA (which can be easily obtained within a few months).
Countervailing buyer power
The Parties submit that hospital and other retailers have a large degree of countervailing power following from the fact that they are able to switch readily between the products of different manufacturers, ensuring that they obtain the most competitive offering from manufacturers, to the benefit of the end-user. Hospitals and retailers could not face any switching costs when changing between suppliers.
d. the competitive effects of the merger (non-coordinated, coordinated and/or vertical effects, as relevant).
The Parties submit that non-coordinated effects will not arise as a result of the Proposed Transaction, as they will continue to face a strong competitive constraint from the fact that:
- there are a number of other established competitors in the market, which face no barriers to expansion;
- there are no material barriers to entry for existing suppliers overseas entering the Singapore market; and
- customers (including hospitals and retailers) have a large degree of countervailing power, as they would not face any switching costs in moving between suppliers.
The Parties submit that the characteristics of the relevant market preclude the possibility of anti-competitive coordinated effects, as:
- there are a large number of existing competitors in the market of varying scale of operations;
- healthcare providers, who are the main bulk purchases of hearing aids, can switch easily between the various suppliers available to them in the market;
- there is continual pressure on competitors to consistently innovate as evident in short product life-cycles, creating market volatility; and
- barriers to entry and expansion into the relevant market are low.