Australian Regulator Wants Overhaul of Anti-Competitive M&A Laws
Australia’s competition regulator has called for a sweeping overhaul of merger laws, saying they are anti-competitive and hurt consumers, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
The laws strongly favor companies seeking mergers or takeovers to be waved through, making it difficult for the regulator to challenge anti-competitive deals through the courts, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. quoted Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims as saying at an event.
The nation’s merger and acquisition laws are “out of step” internationally and benefit large companies, while being detrimental to consumers, small businesses and the economy, Sims was cited as saying.
The regulator’s lack of success in merger cases had resulted in some “problematic acquisitions,” such as Vodafone Group Plc’s merger with TPG Telecom Ltd., which removed the entry of a fourth mobile phone operator, the report said. Another example was AGL Energy Ltd.’s acquisition of Macquarie Generation assets, which led to higher power prices, Sims said according to the report.
Many markets in Australia are dominated by a small number of providers including banking, supermarkets, mobile telecommunications, internet services and domestic air travel among others, Sims said.
Australia has notched its biggest quarter for deals on record, with A$70.9 billion ($50.9 billion) in M&A transactions targeting Australian companies since the start of July. That’s the highest of any quarter dating back to at least 1998, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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