Australia Won't Oppose Qube's Acquisition of AAT
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted court-enforceable undertakings that will allow the proposed acquisition by Qube Holdings of the remaining 50 percent of Australian Amalgamated Terminals (AAT).
Qube supplies automotive and general stevedoring services through a wholly owned subsidiary and has a 25 percent interest in PrixCar, which operates vehicle inspection services. Qube already owns 50 percent of AAT and is acquiring the further stake from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners and a group of global investment funds.
AAT's terminals are critical in the supply of vehicle and other non-containerized stevedoring and vehicle inspection services. The ACCC was concerned that Qube, as the sole owner of AAT, could discriminate against other existing and potential downstream operators and favor its own interests in stevedoring and vehicle inspection services.
“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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
Although the undertaking relates to all four ports, AAT’s operations in Melbourne and Adelaide are expected to cease in 2017.
The undertaking prevents AAT from discriminating against current and potential competitors to Qube for the supply of stevedoring and vehicle inspection services. The undertaking will also compel Qube and AAT to comply with access and berthing allocation rules and ring-fence confidential information supplied to AAT by Qube's 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, who will report to the ACCC, will also assist in ensuring that Qube and AAT are meeting their obligations outlined in the undertaking.
While the Brookfield-led consortium is now selling AAT to Qube, it is retaining the LINX operations, which supply vehicle and general stevedoring services and pre-delivery vehicle inspection services.