Logistics, Ports & Terminals

ACCC will not oppose Asciano split

Patrick is a subsidiary of ASX-listed Asciano. Photo: Patrick

The break-up and takeover of Australian port and rail firm Asciano will not be challenged by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

After an extended period of investigation, the ACCC announced on July 21 it would not oppose the takeover plan, which will see Asciano split up and acquired by various collections of a number of international and local funds and operators.

Qube Holdings, a smaller competitor to Asciano in many sectors, is leading the bid.

ACCC boss Rod Sims said the watchdog’s investigation had been focused on the import-export supply chain for containerised freight through the ports of Botany, Brisbane, Fremantle and Melbourne.

Specifically, he said, the investigation had considered the vertical integration of Asciano’s container port business – Patrick – with Qube’s existing road and rail transport services and empty container parks.

“The ACCC conducted extensive inquiries with a large number of industry participants,” Sims said.

“A broad range of issues were raised across different aspects of the supply chain.

“The ACCC has concluded there is not likely to be a substantial lessening of competition in any market.”

In a statement of issues released in May, the ACCC had some competition concerns, but the recent announcement that the port logistics business ACFS will be sold off separately, cleared up the concerns.

“This restructure resolved a number of the ACCC’s concerns,” Sims said. “It means that the effect of the proposed acquisition is a substitution of Qube for ACFS as the downstream container logistics provider linked to Patrick.”

Brookfield Infrastructure, the key financial firm in the takeover plans, noted the approval from the ACCC, but did not comment further, saying the sale still faced a number of hurdles to clear in both Australia, and overseas.

The next hurdle will be approval from the Supreme Court of New South Wales, with a hearing expected on July 28.

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