Statement on merger decision disclosure

16 May 2019

The ACCC has expressed its deep regret regarding the inadvertent disclosure of a merger decision last week on the afternoon before it was due to be announced.

The competition regulator has conducted a full investigation into the incident and identified that it was caused by a flaw in its website content management system, which has been rectified. 

The information became public when, following the normal practice ahead of announcements, the information was being input into the back end of the mergers register, a third-party user sought to access the existing webpage at the precise moment it was being updated.

Instead of the new information being treated as draft content requiring internal approval, the flaw meant the content was live for eight minutes. 

Because the information went live just before 3pm, the ACCC worked quickly to issue a statement confirming the merger decision to both the ASX and the market.

“We apologise unreservedly for this unfortunate and serious incident,” Chief Operating Officer Rayne de Gruchy said.

“The ACCC has successfully managed highly market-sensitive commercial information for decades and this is the first time, to our knowledge, that a merger decision has been released in this manner.” 

The ACCC’s information technology team has rectified the flaw by applying a patch to the software. 

“We have thoroughly reviewed all of the processes and information technology systems that led to this error, and we want to assure our stakeholders this incident will not be repeated.”

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