The multi-billion merger deal between two of the largest Australian gaming companies – Tabcorp and Tatts Group – has still been in question. The deal has faced a deadlock after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed a federal court order for a further judicial review of the two operators’ deal, which is estimated to AU$11 billion.
If finalised, the deal would create the largest conglomerate in the Australian gambling market. The merger got the official approval of the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) last month, but it has been facing the stiff opposition of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The latter has been acting as the regulatory body which has been supervising the merger, so it has expressed its concerns of the possible impact of the deal on local market conditions and competition.
So, despite the fact that the regulatory approval of the Australian Competition Tribunal has been received by Tabcorp and Tatts Group, the ACCC concerns could not have been simply ignored. As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the Commission has provoked questions about the future conglomerate’s market power and raised a red flag for its rival betting companies across the country.
According to the ACCC, the merger between Tabcorp and Tatts Group would result in seriously hurting competition in the region. Today, the Commission officially revealed that it had applier for a judicial review of the Australian Competition Tribunal’s decision under which the merger was approved. As revealed by the ACCC chairman Rod Sims, the Commission believes that a total of three reviewable errors had been made by the Tribunal according to the Commission. That was the reason why the Commission was seeking for the Federal Court to make these three points of law clear.
Unfortunately for the two Australian gaming operators, the newly-started legal challenge could put Tabcorp’s hopes for completion of the deal in danger. The legal actions taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put the Tabcorp-Tatts Group merger on hold, with the appeal against the ACT’s decision being described as an unprecedented one.
What is more interesting in this case is the fact that the Commission did not make an objection to the final ruling of the Tribunal, but only to certain factors considered in the judgement, including synergy benefits and the use of cost savings. As a matter of fact, the Australian Competition Tribunal usually gives the green light to mergers that would bring a significant public benefit, which was the case with the Tabcorp-Tatts Group merger according to the Tribunal.
As revealed by the Chairman of the ACCC, the review approach of the ACT had been inconsistent according to the Commission. The latter has insisted that the potential impacts of the deal on Australian gambling, sports betting and lottery market would be seriously hurt by the merger of the two companies, which was exactly the reason why it has filed the allegations against ACT’s decision in the Federal Court.