AusRAIL, Market Sectors

ACCC says yes to Freight Australia sale

<p>Pacific National moved closer to being crowned the east coast rail freight king today (Friday, July 2) after clearing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) hurdle in its bid to acquire Freight Australia. </p> <p>The ACCC blessed the bid for Freight Australia after accepting a number of "court enforceable undertakings" from Pacific National</p> <p>The ACCC said it would not intervene in the sale after Pacific National gave a number of guarantees on competition issues that concerned the commission.</p> <p>Commission chairman Graeme Samuel said the ACCC had particular concerns about the acquisition cementing Pacific National’s large market share between the eastern states and Perth.</p> <p>"In particular, the ACCC was concerned that the acquisition may make it difficult for potential entrants to find rail terminal space in Melbourne," Mr Samuel said.</p> <p>"The ACCC was also concerned that the current main competitor to Pacific National for freight between Melbourne and Perth, Specialised Container Transport (SCT), is presently reliant on Freight Australia to provide the locomotives and crew."</p> <p>He said Pacific National had given evidence that it had agreed to a longer contract on the same terms with SCT and it would make changes that would "lessen the effect of the acquisition" on SCT.</p> <p>In regard to the Melbourne rail terminals, Pacific National gave the undertaking it would facilitate entry to the Somerton rail terminal by handing control of the interstate track leading from the mainline into the terminal to the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the ACCC said.</p> <p>These undertakings addressed the competition aspects of the acquisition, the ACCC found.</p> <p>"Many market participants expressed concerns about the level of competition in parts of the rail industry and about access to rail freight infrastructure," Mr Samuel said.</p> <p>"However, the ACCC can only consider the effects on competition that arise from the acquisition itself."</p> <p>The concerns about access to Victorian rail infrastructure were taken into consideration but were ultimately needed to be addressed by the State Government, the ACCC said.</p> <p>Pacific National’s owners, Toll and Patrick, said the ACCC had undertaken a "rigorous review" and consulted widely in making its decision. </p> <p>"The ACCC’s decision clears the way for the transaction to proceed with the only outstanding issue being consent from the Victorian Government to transfer the lease over the tracks to Pacific National," Toll and Patrick stated.</p> <p>The sooner the sale was finalised the sooner stability would return to the Victorian rail network and its employees, they said.</p> <br />