Tabcorp-Tatts Merger News — Weekly Round-up for July 14, 2017

Tabcorp-Tatts Merger Not Quite Home And Dry (Update)

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission files for Federal Court review, highlighting three “reviewable legal errors”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is appealing the Australian Competitions Tribunal (ACT) approval of the Tabcorp-Tatts merger through the Federal Court system.

The ACCC has filed for a judicial review of the ACT  decision, in which TabCorp and Tatts Groups were granted authorisation to merge (see previous InfoPowa reports), believing the ACT made three reviewable legal errors in its decision which were central to its assessment of the merger.

“We are seeking judicial review because we believe these legal principles are fundamental not only to the Tabcorp decision but to all future merger and non-merger authorisation assessments,” Rod Sims, Chairman of the ACCC, said.

InfoPowa readers will recall TabCorp applied to the ACCC for an informal merger clearance late last year, however, withdrew its application after a statement of issues was published and submitted its application directly to the ACT for a decision.

The three grounds identified by ACCC for review cover the ACT’s opinion that there would not be a substantial lessening of competition, the Tribunal’s failure to compare the likely future state of competition both with and without the proposed acquisition in its consideration, and an error in the weight it gave to benefits, such as cost savings and revenue synergies, which would be retained by Tabcorp and not shared with consumers more broadly.

In its submission to the Federal Court, the ACCC is also seeking an order that the matter be dealt with on an expedited timetable.

Crownbet Joins Fight Against Tatts-Tabcorp Merger

Online betting firm joins the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission in asking a federal court to review the merger approval given by the Australian Competition Tribunal

The Tatts-Tabcorp merger just became more complicated following the filing in the Australian Federal Court of an additional appeal against the Australian Competition Tribunal’s approval of the merger.

The Crownbet online gambling company filed the appeal, joining that of the earlier Australian Competition & Consumer Commission requesting a review of the ACT decision. The ACCC claims the ACT made three reviewable errors in granting permission for the merger, a position with which Crownbet agrees.

Explaining Crownbet’s decision to appeal against the merger, a spokesman said that the proposed merger is “bad for punters and for competition,” and that Crownbet had become involved to ensure that the possibly adverse consequences were properly considered.

The Court is scheduled to hold a directions hearing this week at which timelines will be set for the appeal.

Tabcorp issued a statement earlier this week expressing confidence in its case for a merger despite the ACCC appeal, and forecasting completion for the last quarter of 2017.