Competition authority set to authorise £400m fostering merger

By Neil Puffett

| 16 May 2017

A major merger of fostering providers is set to be given the green light after regulators indicated they are happy with plans to sell on some elements of the business to other firms to avoid a monopoly.

There were concerns that the merger between the National Fostering Agency and Acorn Care Education Group could create a monopoly in some areas. Picture:

The National Fostering Agency Group (NFA) bought Acorn Care Education Group in August last year creating a single organisation worth an estimated £400m.

However, in February the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced it would be conducting an investigation of the merger because of concerns that the coming together of the two foster placement service providers would give them a monopoly in some areas.

The NFA had previously said it was prepared to drop some elements of the merger, and has now lined up three buyers for the business in three areas where there are concerns it could have a monopoly - Wales, Luton and Norfolk.

A CMA report reveals that BSN Social Care Limited and Partnerships in Children's Services Limited have been named as potential upfront buyers for the business in Luton and Norfolk.

Meanwhile, BSN and Bridges Evergreen Holdings Limited have been named as the potential upfront buyers for the business in Wales.

The CMA has said it plans to accept the proposal but will consult with foster carers and interested parties prior to making a final decision.

It said it believes the proposed sale will "remedy, mitigate or prevent" the competition concerns it had previously identified.

The deadline for comments is 24 May.

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