Tabcorp Tatts merger back on the cards

The merger of Tabcorp and Tatts Group is back on track after the Australian Competition Tribunal ruled on Friday that the merger is allowed proceed again, local media reports.

The merger was called back into question in July after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission appealed against the tribunal’s first ruling in June.

Following the latest tribunal ruling, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said he was comfortable with the outcome and would be reviewing the judge’s reasons when it releases next week.

“We were very happy with the full court decision, we felt that dealt with all of our issues, so if that is carried forward into this decision than that should be fine. But we need to see those reasons next week,” said Sims to the Australian Financial Review.

“We never got to a view about deciding whether we opposed the merger … we put out a pretty light statement of issues then they took it off to the Tribunal which was very surprising. The only reason we appealed the first Tribunal decision was we felt it set a really worrying precedent for us for future authorisation decisions because we saw the test we applied versus the Tribunal was vastly different.”

Justice John Middleton 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.”

In a statement to the ASX on Friday, Tatts Group said it welcomed the tribunal’s decision to grant authorization for a second time.

It noted that as the reasons for the authorization will be published on Wednesday next week, it may impact the timing of the scheme meeting, which is currently scheduled for November 30, 2017.