"The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose the acquisition of the port of Geelong by Ports Pty Limited, a joint venture between Primera Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of TNT Ltd and Infrastructure Investment Corporation Ltd," ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today.

Infrastructure Investment owns 70 per cent and Primera owns 30 per cent of Ports Pty Ltd.

The port is proposed to be managed by Geelong Port Pty Ltd, ultimately a wholly owned subsidiary of TNT Ltd.

"During consideration of the bids for the port, the ACCC was concerned to ensure that the acquisition did not have substantial anti-competitive effects," Professor Fels said.

The purchasers have addressed the Commission's concerns by providing court-enforceable undertakings to prevent the exercise of market power arising from the control of port facilities and to preserve inter-port competition.

"The key points of the undertakings offered by the companies are that they:

  • provide for non-discriminatory access to the port of Geelong to current and future users;
  • provide for notice of any intention to vertically integrate into the provision of other services at the port of Geelong; and
  • preserve existing and potential inter-port competition by requiring advance notice of any linkages between the port of Geelong joint venture and any other competing port through ownership or involvement in any other significant business.

"The Commission considers that the privatisation of publicly-owned infrastructure assets should be accompanied by appropriate safeguards to preserve and protect actual and potential competition," Professor Fels said. "The Commission therefore had regard to the existing interests of all bidders."

Professor Fels added that the Section 87B undertakings, in accordance with the ACCC's policy, would be available for public perusal.

The ACCC's interest in the privatisation of the port of Geelong followed its involvement in the privatisation of the port of Portland earlier this year. In both cases it was invited by the Victorian Government to assess the competition consequences of the various bids.