Sea Swift gets green light to nab Toll Marine Logistics

Full decision yet to surface but ACCC notes public benefit test must have been passed

Sea Swift gets green light to nab Toll Marine Logistics
After a year, Sea Swift has got what it wanted.


The public interest appears to have trumped competition concerns in the Australian Competition Tribunal’s (ACT’s) decision to allow Sea Swift’s Toll Marine Logistics (TML) takeover.

The decision was well-received at Toll.

"Toll welcomes the decision of the Australian Competition Tribunal on the Sea Swift/Toll Marine Logistics merger," a spokesperson says.

"It has been a long process and the decision will allow all parties to concentrate on giving their customers the best service."

A response has been sought from Sea Swift.

With release of the reasoning pending, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) noted the tribunal "must be satisfied that the proposed acquisition would result in such a benefit to the public that it should be allowed to occur".

The ACCC says it opposed the takeover purely on competition grounds, which is in its remit, while the tribunal can consider wider issues.

 "We are disappointed that the Tribunal has authorised the acquisition, as the ACCC remains of the view that the acquisition is likely to have significant implications for future competition in scheduled marine freight services in the Northern Territory [NT] and far north Queensland [FNQ], ultimately to the detriment of the communities reliant on these services," ACCC commissioner Roger Featherston says

"The acquisition follows a price war between Sea Swift and Toll, and will result in a near monopoly position for Sea Swift in the supply of scheduled marine freight services in both the NT and FNQ.

"Customers in remote communities rely on scheduled services for essential deliveries including fuel and fresh food.

"The ACCC understands that the Tribunal was concerned that these communities would face uncertainty as to whether deliveries would continue if the transaction was not authorised.

"The ACCC’s view remains that competition between providers is the best way to ensure acceptable prices and service levels for these communities in the longer term. 

"The ACCC will continue to oppose acquisitions which it considers are likely to substantially lessen competition.

"The Tribunal’s decision in this matter is unlikely to apply to many other transactions, as the matter involved the unique circumstance that the scheduled marine freight services in question are essential services for the remote communities that they service."

The ACT move comes 12 months after the ACCC found against the deal, and tribunal deliberations Sea Swift thought might take three months to resolve did so.

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