The Federal Trade Commission is currently accepting public comments on an application by prosthetics manufacturer Otto Bock HealthCare North America, Inc. (Ottobock) to divest to Proteor, Inc. certain assets it acquired when it consummated its acquisition of FIH Group Holdings, LLC (Freedom Innovations), including all microprocessor prosthetic knee products and technology.
The FTC staff’s December 2017 complaint alleged that the consummated acquisition harmed competition in the U.S. market for microprocessor prosthetic knees (MPKs) by eliminating head-to-head competition between the two companies, removing a significant and disruptive competitor, and entrenching Ottobock’s position as the dominant supplier. In November 2019, upholding an administrative law judge’s decision, the Commission unanimously found that the merger was anticompetitive, and it ordered the assets unwound. Since December 2017, Ottobock has held the Freedom Innovations business separate from the Ottobock business under a hold-separate agreement with the FTC, overseen by a hold-separate monitor and manager, in order to facilitate any future divestiture of Freedom Innovations.
Although the Final Order issued by the Commission on Nov. 1, 2019, is still under review, Ottobock has moved forward with the required divestiture while its petition for review is stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. According to the divestiture application, Proteor, a French company with U.S. headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, is a well-established and reputable, worldwide manufacturer and supplier of lower-limb prosthetic devices. The proposed divestiture would accomplish the Final Order’s purposes by ensuring the continued operation of Freedom Innovations’ MPK business within Proteor and by remedying the lessening of competition that was alleged in the complaint, according to the divestiture application.
The divestiture application, along with instructions for filing comments, will appear in the Federal Register soon. After a 30-day public comment period, the Commission will vote on whether to approve the application.