The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has called on the parties to the proposed Sydney ports tug merger not to complete the deal until the Federal Court has been able to assess its anti-competitive effect.

Acting Chairman, Mr Allan Asher, said today the ACCC had sought an injunction to stop Howard Smith Industries Pty Limited (HSI), Adelaide Steamship Company Limited (Adsteam) and Waratah Towage Pty Limited (Waratah) completing several agreements for the sale/charter of four tugs currently used by J Fenwick and Co Pty Ltd (Fenwick) in the Sydney ports (Port Jackson and Port Botany).

"The ACCC has written to the parties asking that they do not finalise the deal as:

  •  there had been virtually no prior notification of the transaction;
  • the ACCC had had very limited opportunity to develop its case due to the Christmas shutdown and the non-availability of key executives; and
  • should the ACCC succeed in Court and gain orders for the companies to divest the assets, the disruption to the parties and shippers will far outweigh the benefits of early settlement.

"Today's decision not to grant the interim injunction is a preliminary, not final, view of the Court," Mr Asher said.

A copy of the letter to the parties is attached.