ACCC flags fresh review of Asciano deal
Australia’s competition regulator has flagged a fresh review of the $9.05 billion takeover of rail and ports giant Asciano and is examining whether the new cross-ownership deal will lead to any common financial interest among the suitors.
The watchdog has also sought comments from market participants on whether the takeover will increase the ability of the combined businesses to discriminate against competitors.
Asciano in March agreed to a joint takeover from rival suitors that will carve up Australia’s largest rail and ports operator in an effort to sidestep previous regulatory concerns.
Under the proposal, Asciano’s main Pacific Rail business will be taken over by five overseas funds – China Investment Corp, Canada’s CPPIB, Singapore’s GIC, Global Infrastructure Partners and British Columbia Investment Management Corp (BCIMC).
Its Patrick container terminal business will be jointly acquired by logistics firm Qube and a consortium of Canadian infrastructure giant Brookfield, GIC, BCIMC and Qatar Investment Authority.
Asciano’s bulk, auto and ports services (BAPS) businesses will be taken over by Brookfield, GIC, QIA and BCIMC, with Qube holding rights to buy out the 50 per cent stake in the Australian Amalgamated Terminals business.
CPPIB is separately taking a 9.99 per cent stake in Qube.
“The ACCC considers these underlying commercial relationships may lead to a level of common financial interest within the consortium, despite the division of the proposed acquisition of Asciano into three separate components,” ACCC said in a market inquiries letter.
The regulator said it will take these relationships into account while reviewing the takeover, and now hopes to make a decision on the deal by May 26.