ACCC decision on Sea Swift’s acquisition of Toll Marine Logistics (NT/FNQ) delayed at the merger parties’ request

12 June 2015

Sea Swift Pty Ltd and Toll Marine Logistics Australia, a subsidiary of Toll Holdings Limited, requested the ACCC delay its decision on Sea Swift Pty Ltd’s proposed acquisition of Toll Marine Logistics Australia’s Northern Territory/Far North Queensland marine freight business.

“The ACCC was ready to make and announce a decision in this matter yesterday, but Sea Swift and Toll requested we delay our decision so that they could make submissions about changes to the transaction and a new proposed undertaking that will attempt to address our preliminary competition concerns,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“This shows the difficulties the ACCC faces with setting deadlines in the informal merger process and highlights that in many cases, delays to ACCC decisions are caused by last minute requests from merger parties,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC has agreed to delay its decision by four weeks to 9 July 2015 so that the revised transaction can be presented and assessed. In the meantime, Toll and Sea Swift will continue to compete and there will be no change to operations.

The ACCC understands that there has been uncertainty in the community about the future of the Toll Marine business in the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland. The ACCC has requested and Toll Marine has provided an undertaking to the ACCC that it will not cease providing services before 30 November 2015 unless the matter is resolved sooner.

The ACCC has previously expressed its preliminary concern that the proposed acquisition is likely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of marine freight services in the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland, including the Torres Strait Islands.

Sea Swift and Toll Marine are both suppliers of scheduled marine freight services to the Northern Territory, far north Queensland and coastal communities including the Torres Strait Islands.

Customers and communities in these remote regions require regular replenishment of basic inputs and supplies, including fuel for electrical generators. Large and small retailers in the regions, ranging from a major supermarket chain to community-owned stores require regular, reliable deliveries, particularly for perishable food. Other customers require occasional freight services of items ranging from vehicles to household items. The communities are home to many disadvantaged consumers, often with very low incomes.

Some of these communities cannot receive any freight by road and others are only able to receive limited volumes. This is either because they are located on islands or because the roads to them are routinely not in good enough condition to handle trucks.

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