ACCC launches fresh appeal against Tabcorp-Tatts merger

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has applied to the Federal Court for a ‘justice review’ of the decision to approve the merger of Tabcorp and Tatts Group.

In October last year, Tabcorp and Tatts agreed a deal to join forces and create a combined business worth approximately A$11bn (€7.3bn/US$82bn).

Last month, the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) gave its approval to the merger, despite formal opposition from the ACCC and rival bookmakers over competition fears in the country.

However, while Tabcorp and Tatts had hoped to close the deal within the next few weeks, the ACCC has now opted to revisit the case and put forward a fresh appeal.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, ACC chairman Rod Sims has said: “The ACCC is alleging the tribunal made three reviewable errors.

“It is therefore seeking clarification of these three points of law, which are central to the tribunal’s assessment of Tabcorp’s proposed acquisition of Tatts.”

In its claim, the ACCC alleges the ACT was wrong to think it had to be satisfied there would be a “substantial” lessening of competition in Australia before it could determine if the merger would be detrimental.

The ACCC has also criticised the ACT for not comparing the likely future state of competition with and without the merger, as well as for placing too much of an emphasis on benefits for the operators, such as cost saving.

Sims added: “We believe we had no option but to seek a review of these three, what we say, are reviewable errors, particularly because they set such important precedents for the decisions we have to make into the future.”

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