Freight Rail

ACCC green-lights Qube’s AAT acquisition

Qube container. Photo: Qube

Court-enforceable undertakings from transport and logistics group Qube have satisfied the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that the full takeover of Australian Amalgamated Terminals (AAT) should proceed.

Qube already owns 50% of AAT and is acquiring the further stake from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP and a group of global investment funds.

The ACCC decision was welcomed by a Qube spokesman this morning.

According to an ACCC statement, there was concern that Qube, as the sole owner of AAT, could discriminate against downstream operators in favour of its own stevedoring and vehicle inspection services.

But ACCC chairman Rod Sims indicated these fears had been allayed.

“The court-enforceable undertakings we have from Qube address the ACCC’s concerns about competition in the supply of vehicle stevedoring, vehicle inspection services, and general cargo stevedoring services at the Ports of Brisbane, Kembla, Melbourne, and Adelaide,” Sims said.

The undertaking relates to all four ports, albeit AAT operations in Melbourne and Adelaide are expected to end next year.

According to the ACCC, feedback came from market participants, including AAT terminals users.

“The consultation with users of AAT terminals has led to important changes to the undertaking and has resulted in AAT being subject to a stronger set of obligations,” Sims said.

The undertaking prevents AAT discriminating against competitors to Qube for the supply of stevedoring and vehicle inspection services.

The undertaking is to also compel Qube and AAT to comply with access and berthing allocation rules, as well as ‘ring-fence’ confidential information supplied to AAT by Qube competitors, shipping lines, and car manufacturers.

“The undertaking also contains rigorous price and non-price dispute resolution mechanisms. We expect that users of AAT’s terminals will be active in pursuing dispute resolution options and raising potential discrimination issues,” Sims said.

An independent auditor, reporting to the ACCC, is to ensure Qube and AAT meet their obligations.

This article originally appeared on Rail Express affiliate site Lloyd’s List Australia.