Logistics, Ports & Terminals

ACCC looking into Qube, Glencore moves

Qube is looking to drastically expand its multi-modal portfolio. Photo: Qube

Just weeks after it said it wouldn’t interfere with a Qube-led consortium’s plans to break up and takeover port and rail giant Asciano, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has opened an investigation into Qube’s planned acquisition of Asciano’s share of the Australian Amalgamated Terminals (AAT) business.

The ACCC approved the overall takeover of Asciano last month.

Under the plan, Qube, which spearheaded the successful bid, will take a 50% ownership of Asciano’s Patrick ports business, along with investment firms Brookfield (33.5%), GIC (5.5%), bcIMC (5.5%) and QIA (5.5%).

Asciano’s rail business, Pacific National, will end up in the hands of financial firms GIP (27%), CPPIB (33%), CIC Capital (16%), GIC (12%) and bcIMC (12%).

And its Bulk & Automotive Port Services business will end up being majorly owned by Brookfield (67%), along with smaller investors GIC (11%), bcIMC (11%) and QIA (11%).

The final transaction is set to take place on August 19.

But it’s the acquisition of Asciano’s 50% share in multi user port business Australian Amalgamated Terminals that is the subject of the ACCC’s latest inquiry.

Qube already owns the other 50% share of AAT, so by acquiring the remaining 50%, Qube plans to take full control of the business, which has sites in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and South Australia.

“The proposed acquisition would result in Qube holding 100% of AAT,” the competition authority said on August 8.

“There are two issues that the ACCC is seeking market feedback: the likely effect of the proposed acquisition on competition; and the potential of the proposed undertaking offered by Qube and AAT to address any competition concerns that would otherwise result from the proposed acquisition.”

The ACCC plans to make a decision on the acquisition, and any potential undertaking agreement, by October 6.

Meanwhile the competition authority will also look into Queensland rail operator Aurizon’s bid to purchase Glencore’s NSW rail business, GRail.

Aurizon is one of three rumoured bidders for the business, which Glencore is looking to offload as part of its debt reduction strategy.

Pacific National and GRail’s existing operator, Genesee & Wyoming are the other rumoured parties in the bidding process.

The ACCC said on August 4 it would review the bid, and invited public submissions, with a planned decision announcement on September 29.

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