The AU$11-billion merger deal between the gambling behemoths Tatts Group and Tabcorp seems to be back on track, after the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) gave its permission to the deal once again.
The watchdog, however, allowed the deal to happen under once condition, which requires Tabcorp to dispose of its Odyssey Gaming business in Queensland. So, the two companies seem to may be forced to overcome more legal difficulties in case that the opponents of the merger decide to challenge it in court once again.
Tabcorp commented on the decision of the Australian Competition Tribunal, describing it as a significant step forward. The company also explained that it remains focused on finalising the merger with Tatts Group by the end of 2017. The approval granted by to the merger by the ACT was also welcomed by Tatts Group.
Now, the deal needs only to be approved by the Supreme Court of Victoria, as well as by the shareholders of the Tatts Group. Latter are set to have a vote on the deal on November 30th.
Previous Regulatory Hurdles Faced by the Merger
The deal between the two companies was put under question in July, after the Australian Competition Tribunal’s initial approval of the merger had to be reviewed due to objections from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and one of the two companies’ competitors – the online betting operator CrownBet. As a result, the case was brought to the Federal Court which brought the matter back to the ACT, saying that the regulator needed to review its original decision.
Now, after the latest revision of its decision, the Australian competition watchdog shared its satisfaction with the terms of the proposed deal, saying that the merger could bring significant public benefits to the community. The Australian Competition Tribunal shared that the possible negative effects that could be brought to local gaming market and community according to the ACCC and CrownBet are highly unlikely to happen or cause substantial harm.
As mentioned above, the ACT revealed that it is satisfied with the terms of the proposed merger and the expected effects it was likely to bring. The only condition that the regulatory body imposed on the two companies in order for the deal to be given the green light, was related to the Odyssey Gaming business of Tabcorp. The Tribunal required from the Australian gambling giant to sell the assets in question in order for the merger to be completed.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the watchdog once again made an error by approving the deal. The ACCC questioned the Tribunal’s decision, saying that the regulator should have taken into consideration the benefits that Tabcorp would receive in case that the deal is finalised.
On the other hand, a spokesperson of the other opponent of the two gambling giant’s merger, CrownBet, revealed that the online betting company is to review the latest decision of the Tribunal and would consider the possible options.