ACCC OKs Bids for 50-Year Lease of Port of Melbourne

After it looked into potential cross-ownership interests and vertical relationships related to the Port of Melbourne, NSW Ports, and the Port of Brisbane, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that it “will not oppose” two separate proposals by consortia to acquire the 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne.

The ACCC’s review of both the IFM Consortium and QIC Consortium proposals focused primarily on the cross-ownership interests in the ports, and vertical relationships with port services providers operating at the Port of Melbourne.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said that, following the review, the ACCC found that “neither acquisition would result in a substantial lessening of competition.”

The commission also explored a number of potential vertical issues arising from some consortium members having interests, or managing interests on behalf of clients, in port users, including the stevedore and container terminal operator DP World Australia and the bulk liquids storage provider ANZ Terminals, in relation to the IFM Consortium; and DP World Australia and the rail freight provider Pacific National, in relation to the QIC Consortium.

It said that several constraints on the consortium members’ ability to discriminate in favour of these downstream port services providers or to share commercially sensitive information regarding rivals of these providers were identified.

Sims added that “no single consortium member will control the port, or has a controlling stake in other ports or vertically related businesses,” which limits any potential competitive detriment.