[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 108 (Monday, June 5, 2000)]
[Pages 35643-35644]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-13963]



[File No. 981 0108]

Service Corporation International; Analysis To Aid Public Comment

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION: Proposed consent agreement.


SUMMARY: The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged 
violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or 
practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis To 
Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft 
complaint that accompanies the consent agreement and the terms of the 
consent order--embodied in the consent agreement--that would settle 
these allegations.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 19, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, 
Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Harold Kirtz or Andrea Foster, Federal 
Trade Commission, Southeast Region, Suite 5M35, Midrise Bldg., 60 
Forsyth St., S.W., Atlanta, GA 30303. (404) 656-1357.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal 
Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46 and Section 2.34 of 
the Commission's Rules of Practice (16 CFR 2.34) notice is hereby given 
that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order 
to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to 
final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record 
for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis To Aid Public 
Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the 
allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of 
the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page 
(for May 18, 2000), on the World Wide Web, at ``http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/
formal.htm.'' A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public 
Reference Room, Room H-130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,

[[Page 35644]]

Washington, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-3627.
    Public comment is invited. Comments should be directed to: FTC/
Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 6000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 
Washington, DC 20580. Two paper copies of each comment should be filed, 
and should be accompanied, if possible by a 3\1/2\ inch diskette 
containing an electronic copy of the comment. Such comments or views 
will be considered by the Commission and will be available for 
inspection and copying at its principal office in accordance with 
Section 4.9(b)(6)(ii) of the Commission's Rules of Practice (16 CFR 

Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

    The Federal Trade Commission has accepted an agreement for public 
comment from Service Corporation International (``SCI'') designed to 
remedy the anticompetitive effects arising from SCI's 1994 acquisition 
of the LaGrone Funeral Home (``LaGrone'') in Roswell, New Mexico. SCI, 
headquartered in Houston, Texas, is the nation's largest chain of 
funeral homes and cemeteries. LaGrone, at the time of the acquisition, 
operated two funeral homes in New Mexico.
    At the time of the acquisition, there were only two funeral homes 
operating in Roswell, New Mexico. SCI owned the Ballard Funeral Home. 
LaGrone owned the remaining funeral home. The acquisition gave SCI a 
monopoly in the provision of funeral services in Roswell. Funeral 
services include transporting the deceased from the place of death to 
the funeral home, embalming and otherwise preparing the body for 
burial, providing a casket, holding a viewing or other ceremony, and 
transporting the body to the cemetery or crematorium. Since the 
acquisition, no new entry into the provision of funeral services in 
Roswell has occurred. After the acquisition, prices for funeral 
services increased in Roswell.
    On September 28, 1999, prompted by the Commission's investigation 
of the LaGrone acquisition, SCI sold the Ballard Funeral Home to Sentry 
Group Services, Inc. (``Sentry''). Sentry, a privately-held company, 
owns and operates 37 funeral homes in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, 
Kansas, and Colorado. Provident Services, Inc. (``Provident''), SCI's 
financial subsidiary, provided financing for Sentry's acquisition.\1\

    \1\ Provident is kept separate and distinct from the operating 
divisions of SCI. Because there are unique financing needs in the 
funeral industry, Provident provides loan services for many 
transactions, including the construction or acquisition of funeral 
homes by a number of SCI's competitors. Consequently, Provident's 
loan agreement includes a provision guaranteeing the confidentiality 
of information provided to Provident by a borrowing funeral home 

    To ensure that competition is fully restored in Roswell, the 
Commission's proposed Consent Order requires that, if SCI acquires the 
Ballard Funeral Home pursuant to a default on Sentry's loan with 
Provident, SCI must divest Ballard to a Commission-approved buyer 
within 90 days. In the event SCI does not accomplish the divestiture 
within 90 days, the proposed Consent Order provides that the Commission 
may appoint a trustee to divest Ballard. Moreover, the proposed Consent 
Order prohibits Provident from sharing information obtained from Sentry 
with SCI.
    The proposed Consent Order also provides that, for a period of ten 
years, SCI must give prior notice to the Commission of any proposed 
acquisition of a funeral home serving Chaves County, New Mexico, where 
Roswell is located.
    The proposed Consent Order has been placed on the public record for 
thirty days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments 
received during this period will become part of the public record. The 
purpose of this analysis is to invite and facilitate public comment 
concerning the proposed Consent Order in order to aid the Commission in 
its determination of whether to make the proposed Consent Order final. 
It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the 
proposed Consent Order, nor is it intended to modify the terms in any 
way. After thirty days, the Commission will again review the agreement 
and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw 
from the agreement or make the proposed Consent Order final.

    By direction of the Commission.
Donald S. Clark,
[FR Doc. 00-13963 Filed 6-2-00; 8:45 am]