The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a Statement of Issues on the proposed acquisition of Fielders Australia Pty Ltd by BlueScope Steel Ltd.
BlueScope, through its subsidiary Lysaght, and Fielders compete in the manufacture and supply of roll formed products. In addition, BlueScope is the only domestic manufacturer of steel coil, which is the key input in the roll forming manufacturing process.
Roll formed products are used by builders, steel fabricators, roof installers, shed manufacturers, fencing contractors, distributors and other resellers such as hardware retailers. BlueScope’s painted steel brand COLORBOND enjoys a very high level of market recognition and customer preference.
“The ACCC’s preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition may raise competition concerns in relation to BlueScope’s supply of steel coil inputs to rival downstream roll formers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Market inquiries to date have identified concerns amongst industry participants about the increased ability of BlueScope to leverage the ‘must-have’ status of COLORBOND as a result of the proposed acquisition.”
However, the ACCC notes that BlueScope is already vertically integrated through its subsidiary Lysaght.
“The ACCC considers that BlueScope already has some ability to discriminate in the supply of steel coil to rival roll formers,” Mr Sims said.
“The ACCC is examining whether the proposed acquisition actually increases its incentive to discriminate to a significant extent.”
The ACCC also seeks further information about possible concerns in relation to the supply of steel formwork, which is used in the construction of elevated concrete slabs.
“The ACCC considers Lysaght and Fielders to be strong competitors in the supply of steel formwork and will continue to investigate whether the acquisition may enable BlueScope to increase prices or reduce service in relation to these products,” Mr Sims said.
“In particular, the ACCC is examining whether current suppliers of steel formwork, the threat of new entry from existing roll formers and the possibility of using timber formwork would constrain BlueScope post-acquisition.”
The ACCC invites further submissions from the market in response to the Statement of Issues by 20 December 2013. The ACCC's proposed final decision date is 30 January 2014.
Submissions can be sent by email to the ACCC at firstname.lastname@example.org.