The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced that it will not oppose the proposed acquisition by Victoria Quay International RoRo Terminal Pty Ltd (VQIRT) of a long-term lease to develop and operate the Automotive and RoRo Terminal at the Port of Fremantle, after accepting a court-enforceable undertaking.
The undertaking seeks to address the ACCC’s competition concerns should VQIRT be successful in its bid.
VQIRT’s ultimate parent company, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS (WWL), operates an ocean shipping business in competition with other terminal users at the Port of Fremantle.
“The ACCC was concerned that in the absence of the undertaking, VQIRT could provide preferential treatment to WWL, to the detriment of other shipping companies,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The ACCC was concerned that VQIRT could use its position as a vertically integrated operator of the sole automotive terminal at the Port of Fremantle to discriminate against rival automotive shipping lines and other terminal users that VQIRT may compete with in future, including stevedores and pre-delivery inspection facility operators. Through its control of the terminal, it could raise the costs of its potential rivals or disadvantage them in other ways.
To address these concerns, the undertaking requires that VQIRT:
- complies with open access conditions in its operation of the terminal;
- will not have any responsibility for berthing services unless a variation to the undertaking is accepted by the ACCC;
- ring fences terminal users’ confidential information, to ensure the confidential information is not inappropriately disclosed;
- provides mechanisms for independent resolution of price and non-price related disputes if parties consider they have been discriminated against or have other concerns relating to the supply of terminal services by VQIRT;
- provides for oversight of VQIRT’s compliance with the undertaking through self-reporting and the requirement for regular independent audits by an ACCC-approved auditor; and
- allows terminal users to request that an independent auditor conducts an audit check of VQIRT’s compliance with the undertaking at any time if a terminal user is concerned that VQIRT has breached its undertaking obligations.
“An important additional feature of the undertaking is that the ACCC can publicly review it two years after commencement and every five years thereafter,” Mr Sims said.
The undertaking is available at http://registers.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1185518
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