Concerns about Emergent, Oxford cold storage deal

15 August 2019

The ACCC has raised preliminary competition concerns about Emergent Cold’s proposed acquisition of rival cold storage operator Oxford, outlined in a statement of issues published today.

Oxford and Emergent Cold are the second and third biggest suppliers of third-party cold storage services in Victoria.

Cold storage is an integral part of the domestic and international supply chains for food products including dairy, seafood, raw and cooked meat, poultry, frozen vegetables and other frozen or chilled foods.

“This acquisition would reduce the number of large Victorian suppliers from four to three,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“A significant number of customers have raised concerns with the ACCC about this deal. They consider Emergent Cold and Oxford to be each other’s closest competitors, as the companies provide similar services to similar customers.”

“The ACCC is concerned that losing the competition between Emergent Cold and Oxford in an already concentrated industry would result in higher prices and lower service levels,” Mr Sims said.

The combined Emergent Cold-Oxford would become the biggest supplier of third-party cold storage services in Victoria, controlling almost 40 per cent of total market capacity.

Market feedback indicates that the other main suppliers, Americold and NewCold, have limited spare capacity and business models that focus on supplying the largest customers.

The ACCC is seeking further information from market participants about the level of competition that would remain if the deal proceeds, as well as the ease and likelihood of entry by new operators.

The ACCC invites submissions from interested parties by 30 August 2019. The ACCC’s final decision is scheduled for 7 November 2019. The statement of issues is available at Emergent Cold proposed acquisition of AB Oxford Cold Storage Company

Background

Emergent Cold proposes to acquire AB Oxford Cold Storage Company Pty Ltd and AB Oxford Cold Storage Company No.2 Pty Ltd (together, Oxford). Oxford is a privately owned operator of a large cold storage facility in Laverton North, Victoria.

Emergent Cold Pty Ltd (Emergent Cold) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emergent Cold L.P., a US-based provider of refrigerated third-party logistics and management services. Emergent Cold operates five cold storage facilities in Victoria at sites in Laverton, Allansford, Truganina, Lyndhurst and Tullamarine.

Emergent Cold entered the Australian market in late 2017, through its acquisition of the cold storage business of John Swire & Sons, Swire Cold Storage. It expanded in late 2018 by acquiring Montague Cold Storage.

Release number: 
147/19
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