Competition tribunal approves $11bn Tabcorp-Tatts merger

Business News

The Australian Competition Tribunal has allowed the $11 billion merger between Tabcorp and Tatts Group to proceed, subject to only one condition.That condition requires Tabcorp to sell its Odyssey Gaming business in Queensland.

 This is the second time the tribunal has given the greenlight for the merger. Back in June, the tribunal approved this deal.

However, CrownBet and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lodged an appeal to the Federal Court. CrownBet argued the deal was bad for punters and against the public interest, while the ACCC contended the tribunal was wrong to conclude the merger would not cause a substantial lessening of competition.

The court subsequently quashed the initial approval in September, and referred the matter back to the tribunal’s president Justice John Middleton for further examination.

“When the ACCC sought review of the tribunal’s earlier determination, our purpose was to clarify the law,” said the corporate regulator’s chairman Rod Sims.

“We achieved that objective, with the Full [Federal] Court making it clear that the tribunal was required to take in to account all competitive detriment that is likely to result from the proposed merger.”

Justice Middleton today released a brief summary of his upcoming decision.

The judge’s summary noted that the tribunal was satisfied “the proposed merger is likely to result in substantial public benefits” and that “the detriments identified by the ACCC and the interveners are unlikely to either arise or are not otherwise material”.

He also said: “The tribunal is satisfied in all the circumstances that the proposed merger would result, or would be likely to result, in such a benefit to the public that the acquisition should be allowed to occur.”

The tribunal expects to publish the reasons for its decision on November 22.

Tabcorp entered a trading halt this morning, pending the tribunal’s decision.

The company said it plans to resume normal trading on the ASX next Tuesday, or after it makes a market announcement about the merger.