Funerals are going corporate, and now the biggest chain of mortuaries and cemeteries has received a green light to get much bigger. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will allow Service Corporation International to acquire its largest rival, Stewart Enterprises, on the condition that the behemoth of “death care”—that’s what the industry calls itself—sheds properties in scores of communities across the country.
Advocates for funeral customers had passionately opposed the SCI-Stewart combination, announced last May, complaining that when SCI comes to town, prices tend to rise and service deteriorates. SCI, it will not surprise you to know, contends that it provides better death-care service for the bereaved’s dollar. In response, the FTC investigated and found that the proposed $1.4 billion deal would indeed probably lessen competition in 59 communities throughout the U.S.