The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is inviting comments upon a draft undertaking from Metcash (ASX: MST) intended to resolve competition concerns from Metcash’s proposal to acquire rival hardware wholesaler Home Timber & Hardware (HTH) from Woolworths (ASX: WOW). Metcash owns the Mitre 10 brand.
The ACCC notes that Mitre 10 and HTH are the only full-service wholesale options for independent hardware and home improvement retailers.
“Without the alternative of switching their business to Home Timber & Hardware, many retailers are concerned that Mitre 10 would be able to stop them buying hardware supplies from outside Mitre 10. So Mitre 10 has offered to undertake not to restrict retailers from acquiring products from such sources,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.
The ACCC says after the proposed acquisition, Mitre 10 would have an ownership interest in around 100 retail stores. Some retailers are concerned that Mitre 10 could discriminate against them in favour of its own stores.
“The proposed undertaking is also intended to prevent any such discrimination,” Mr Featherston said.
The ACCC has published Mitre 10’s proposed undertaking on its website and invites comments from interested parties. The ACCC seeks submissions by 12 July 2016. The ACCC will then decide whether to accept the undertaking, which may include amendments based on market feedback.
“Our seeking of views on the proposed undertaking, however, should not be interpreted as a signal that the ACCC will necessarily accept this or any amended undertaking in this matter,” Mr Featherston said.
The ACCC’s expected decision date is 21 July 2016.