Pacific National/Aurizon – Australian Federal Court approves merger, subject to condition 28.05.19

The Australian Federal Court has dismissed the ACCC’s proceedings that related to the acquisition by Pacific National, a rail operator, of the Acacia Ridge Terminal in Brisbane, from Aurizon.  The ACCC had raised concerns that Pacific National’s acquisition of the Acacia Ridge Terminal would have deterred a new entrant from providing interstate linehaul services in competition with Pacific National, and that a ‘terminal services subcontract’ that provided for Pacific National to conduct the day to day operations on the interstate side of the Acacia Ridge Terminal would harm competition in interstate and Queensland intermodal rail markets.  An RBB team led by George Siolis considered the profitability and sustainability of one of the rail services previously operated by Aurizon, which had used the terminal.  During the trial in the Federal Court, RBB economist Patrick Smith testified a hot tub, in regard to the relevant market definitions, and the likelihood that the transaction would give rise to anti-competitive vertical input foreclosure.  Justice Beach rejected the ACCC’s case on each concern, subject to access undertakings, and cited this evidence in the final decision, noting that: “I propose to proceed largely adopting the above economic framework as expounded by Mr Smith.” and “I found him to be highly skilled and very thorough in his written and oral evidence”.  RBB was instructed by Clayton Utz, and Ashurst, solicitors acting for Pacific National and Aurizon, respectively.


Tobacco manufacturers cleared from concerted practice allegations in Serbia 22.05.19

On 21 May 2019 the Serbian Commission for Competition Protection officially dropped its investigation against tobacco manufacturers, including Imperial Tobacco, over a possible infringement of Article 10 of the Protection of Competition Act, consisting in alleged price coordination between producers of factory made cigarettes. In line with the findings of RBB’s report submitted to the authority, the Serbian Commission dismissed the case on the ground that there was not enough evidence that the observed parallel behaviour was a result of coordination rather than the market structure and regulatory framework. RBB Economics assisted Imperial Tobacco alongside law firms Ashurst and BDK Advokati throughout the investigation.


German bookstore merger cleared unconditionally 09.05.19

On 9 May 2019 the German competition authority (the Bundeskartellamt) unconditionally cleared the merger between Thalia and Mayersche following a phase one investigation. Following the merger, the Parties will be Germany’s biggest bookstore chain. Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt noted that the authority had examined the merger “very closely”, focusing in particular on regional markets across North Rhine-Westphalia where the parties have a relatively high combined share of book retail sales. Despite this, the authority concluded that due to the growth of sales online and competition from a large number of traditional medium and smaller-sized retailers, the merger is not expected to significantly impede effective competition. The eBook and eBook reader markets were also examined and found unproblematic, in particular due to competitive pressure from market leader Amazon. RBB Economics advised both parties during the investigation.


French television group cleared from abuse of dominance allegations 25.04.19

On 25 April 2019 the French Competition Authority dismissed all allegations that TF1 Publicité, the advertising arm of leading free-to-air television group TF1, abused its alleged dominant position on the market for television advertising. The 5 year-long investigation analysed in detail possible issues concerning exclusivity rebates, fidelity rebates and bundling. RBB assisted TF1 alongside law firm Vogel & Vogel.


Breakfast Seminar: Competition Amendment Act and Draft Regulations 07.03.19

On 14 March 2019, RBB Partner, Patrick Smith, will speak at a Breakfast Seminar on the topic of the Competition Amendment Act and the Draft Regulations on price discrimination and buyer power. Patrick will appear on a panel with Anthony Norton, Judge David Unterhalter, Jerome Wilson SC, and Avias Ngwenya.

The Seminar will allow business to better understand the commercial implications of the Competition Amendment Act and the proposed draft regulations.

The seminar is scheduled from 8:00 am – 10:00 am with registration from 7:30 am, at the Radisson Blue Gautrain Hotel, corner West St and Rivonia Rd, Sandton. RSVP here.