Tabcorp-Tatts merger suffers latest setback

Fresh doubts have been raised over the proposed merger between Australian gambling giants Tabcorp and Tatts Group after the Federal Court upheld an appeal from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Tabcorp and Tatts have already agreed to join forces and create a combined business worth approximately A$11bn (€7.39bn/US$8.86bn).

However, the process has been delayed by a series of issues, the latest coming as a result of a court hearing into an appeal filed by the ACCC.

In July, the ACCC applied to the Federal Court for a ‘justice review’ of the decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) to approve the merger.

The ACCC and several rival bookmakers had raised concerns over the deal and hoped the Federal Court would take action.

This week, the Court ruled the matter should be returned to the ACT for further consideration, although has not yet made public the reasons behind its decision.

The Australian newspaper reports that the ACT will pass another judgment on the deal within a week, with ACT Justice John Middleton contacting all parties involved that he wanted the matter considered and determined “as soon as practically possible”.

Parties have been asked to provide any written submissions by September 25, with a reply deadline set for the following day.

“The tribunal would then further consider and determine the matter,” Middleton said.

“If the issues in contention are of small compass, the tribunal would endeavour to make a new determination by September 28 after considering the submissions of the parties and the participants.”

Responding to the Federal Court ruling, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: “The ACCC is pleased that the Full Federal Court has set aside the decision.

“The ACCC argued that the tribunal had made an error in failing to assign less weight to benefits which would be retained by Tabcorp, its shareholders and the racing industry, and not shared with consumers more broad.”

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