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ACCC Annual Report 2017-18

The ACCC secured nearly $170 million in penalties for breaches of competition and consumer law in the 2017-18 financial year, according to its latest annual report.

The regulator’s work spans a range of issues affecting consumers and small and large businesses across the economy, including product safety, infrastructure regulation, mergers, authorisations, agriculture, and inquiries into electricity affordability, the domestic gas market and competition in financial services.

ACCC will not oppose Cabcharge’s acquisition of MTI

The ACCC will not oppose the proposed $6.6 million acquisition by Cabcharge Australia Limited (ASX:CAB) of Mobile Technologies International Pty Ltd (MTI).

MTI is the most widely used provider of taxi dispatch systems to taxi networks in Australia.

The ACCC found that it was unlikely that the acquisition would result in Cabcharge supplying inferior dispatch systems or withholding technology features from rival networks.

Data economy drives dynamic changes

ACCC Chair Rod Sims discussed the local and global issues in regulating the data economy in a speech delivered in Sydney today.

Mr Sims examined the difficulty regulators face in determining the competition impacts when dynamic data companies merge, consumer issues and how the ACCC is well placed to take enforcement action in relation to data issues.

“One of the key challenges with merger cases in digital markets is predicting the likelihood of future competition between the target and the acquirer,” Mr Sims said.

Stronger penalties required for franchising codes and UCT laws

Australia’s Franchising Code of Conduct needs strengthening to better protect franchisees, including significantly increased penalties for breaches, and requiring improved and more meaningful information disclosure to franchisees. These changes, in combination with stronger unfair contract terms (UCT) law, would help to improve the operations of franchise businesses in Australia.

ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh called for these changes in a speech delivered today at the National Franchise Convention Legal Symposium in Melbourne.

ACCC will not oppose proposed sale of Aurizon’s Queensland intermodal business

The ACCC notes today’s announcement by Aurizon about the sale of its Queensland intermodal business to Linfox.

The ACCC has considered the Linfox proposal, and has decided that a public review of the transaction is not required, as we do not consider the acquisition by Linfox will give rise to a substantial lessening of competition.

Port of Newcastle to reduce charge for Glencore

The ACCC has finalised its arbitration of a dispute between Glencore Coal Assets Australia Pty Ltd (Glencore) and Port of Newcastle Operations Pty Ltd (PNO) about terms and conditions for accessing the ‘declared’ shipping channel service at the Port of Newcastle.

The ACCC has determined that PNO should reduce its current charge for ships entering the port to carry Glencore’s coal by around 20 per cent to $0.61 per gross tonne (GT).

The port provides the only commercially viable means of exporting coal from the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales.