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PN monopoly fears spark debate on Freight Australia deal

<p>Transport industry heavyweights have voiced their concerns on how Freight Australia’s sale to Pacific National will affect rail competition.</p> <p>Linfox chairman Peter Fox and Finemores Transport’s Tom Finemore told <em>Business Sunday </em> on May 2 of their reservations about the deal that has yet to receive approval from the Victorian Government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).</p> <p>Linfox and Finemores were involved in the Babcock and Brown-headed syndicate that made a losing bid for Freight Australia.</p> <p>Mr Finemore told the program that Pacific National’s potential domination of the east coast would serve mostly the interests of shareholders, Patrick and Toll.</p> <p>"Unless there is competition, it will be very difficult because one player will be operating in that sector and there will be no guarantee that they are the most efficient and that the returns go to Australia as a whole, to all Australians, rather than just to the shareholders of the major player," he said.</p> <p>Mr Fox said he thought his syndicate had been used as a stalking horse for Pacific National’s interest in Freight Australia and it had been "double-crossed" by RailAmerica.</p> <p>Although he said legal action was unlikely he hoped the ACCC would act.</p> <p>"They will quite clearly see that there is domination of one party to try to absolutely control this marketplace," Mr Fox said.</p> <p>Toll Holdings managing director Paul Little, who also appeared on the program, dismissed concerns that Pacific National was a monopolist.</p> <p>"I don’t believe so. If you look at the American model, what has happened in the States is very much the creation of two or three very strong railroads, but underneath them they have brought up a series of niche operators that really are performing very well on the back of a high level of focus generally for rail as an alternative to road transport," Mr Little said. </p> <br />