Equestrianism: FEI signs Agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim with the aim of promoting equine health and education

By Laura Donnellan, School of Law, University of Limerick, Ireland

Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), a global pharmaceutical company and new world leader in animal health, has just signed a three-year agreement with the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body of equestrian sports.  The agreement is predicated on the promotion of equine health and education in the form of online courses provided by FEI Campus.

Since April 2017, the FEI has concluded three partnerships, one with SAP SE, the market leader in enterprise application software (https://www.sap.com/corporate/en.html). SAP SE became the Official Analytics Sponsor of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage and has created an app for dressage fans which provides real time information (Equestrian fans taken to next level as SAP becomes new FEI sponsor, 1 April 2017, https://inside.fei.org/news/equestrian-fans-taken-next-level-sap-becomes-new-fei-sponsor).

In August 2017, it extended its agreement with Longines, which had originally been signed in 2013 (Longines signs long-term title partnership of FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping and extends global agreement as FEI Top Partner, 27 August 2017, http://inside.fei.org/news/longines-signs-long-term-title-partnership-fei-nations-cup%E2%84%A2-jumping-and-extends-global).

At the end of September 2017, the FEI agreement with BI was announced.

BI is a family-owned company with its headquarters in Germany and was founded in 1885. BI has 143 affiliates and more than 45,600 employees (Boehringer Ingelheim, 2016 Annual Report, at p.01, http://annualreport.boehringer-ingelheim.com/fileadmin/pdf/bi_annual_report_2016_en_gesamt.pdf).  It ranks among the top twenty pharmaceutical companies in the world. It develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products for humans and animals.

In 2016, the European Commission approved BI’s acquisition of Sanofi’s subsidiary, Merial, which specialises in animal health, under the EU Merger Regulation (European Commission Press Release, Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Sanofi’s animal health business Merial by Boehringer Ingelheim, subject to conditions, Brussels, 9 November 2016, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3641_en.htm). The European Commission acknowledged that Merial and BI were two important competitors in the industry and that the acquisition could result in the elimination of competition and a corresponding price increase and loss of quality of service and supply in certain markets. Certain conditions were, therefore, attached to the approval, including the divestment of a number of animal health vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

The acquisition was completed on 1 January 2017 and it has been surmised that the animal health market will double between now and 2030 and reach €53 billion (Boehringer Ingelheim: A New World Leader in Animal Health, 5 April 2017, https://www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/press-release/animal-health-media-event-2017).  BI Animal Health employs over 10,000 staff with a global presence in 99 countries and its products are available in over 150 markets.

In the aftermath of the successful acquisition of Merial, BI Animal Health was unveiled as the FEI Equine Health Partner and FEI Campus Partner, the announcement being made in Barcelona at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final on 29 September 2017.

According to its 2016 Annual Report, BI’s “main horse products focus o the therapeutic areas of respiratory disease, lameness, colic and hormonal disorders” (Boehringer Ingelheim, 2016 Annual Report, at p.82).

Given its development and manufacturing of such products for horses and its acquisition of Merial, the agreement with FEI will no doubt aid BI in its quest to maintain its position as the world leader in animal health.

FEI Campus was launched in June 2017. In essence, it is “a unique and free e-learning gateway for everyone with a love of horses and equestrian sport, wherever they are in the world” (FEI Campus launches today – get e-learning anytime, anywhere, 19 June 2017, https://inside.fei.org/news/fei-campus-launches-today-%E2%80%93-get-e-learning-anytime-anywhere).

It provides a number of online courses, under the umbrella of horsemanship; for example, there are a number of courses offered in areas including Equine Anatomy & Physiology, Equine Behaviour, and Husbandry and Feeding (https://campus.fei.org/). There is also a section on the FEI Campus website that provides veterinary courses of which two are listed: National and Event Biosecurity Measures and Understanding and Preventing Bone Injury in Athletic Horses (https://campus.fei.org/course/index.php?categoryid=24). The BI logo appears throughout the FEI Campus website.

The online courses are more cost effective, as FEI officials will no longer need to travel and pay for accommodation to attend courses and those that have an interest in equestrian sports can also avail themselves of these free resources.

BI will collaborate with the FEI on the content of these courses and, according to Dr Erich Schött, Head of the Strategic Business Unit Equine at BI, “by working with the FEI we can share expertise globally through FEI Campus, and we are confident that this will be of enormous benefit to equine health worldwide” (Boehringer Ingelheim and FEI partner to promote equine health and education, 29 September 2017, https://www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/press-release/partnership-fei-promote-equine-health).

The financial aspects of the partnership have not been disclosed. But, it is a mutually beneficial agreement for both parties involved. The FEI Campus, whilst still in embryonic form, can develop under the guidance of BI. However, as a leading pharmaceutical company, BI has a vested interest in promoting its equine health products and only time will tell if the content of the courses offered on the FEI Campus will become influenced by BI. At the moment, there is no indication that BI will have such power over the FEI Campus initiative.

BI is bringing a wealth of expertise that will, hopefully, benefit the health and welfare of horses, and this can only be a good thing and in line with FEI objectives!

The author may be contacted by e-mail at ‘laura.donnellan@ul.ie’