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Competition Policy Review (Harper Review)

For the latest news and information on the Harper Review visit my review page or the official Competition Policy Review website. The panel's final report is expected to be released to the public on Tuesday 31 March 2015.

 

Latest Competition Law News and Commentary

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29 March 2015 - ICN Conference to cost $500k

Featuring prominently in the news today is the anticipated cost of the next International Competition Network conference, to be hosted by the ACCC in Sydney next month. This will be the 14th annual conference of the ICN, which was established in 2001. The ACCC was one of the founding 16 member agencies of the Network which now comprises over 100 competition agencies from almost as many jurisdictions. See Matthew Knott, 'ACCC International Competition Network conference to cost $500k' (SMH, 29 March 2015). For details about the conference see the conference home page.

27 March 2015 - Harper Report to be released next Tuesday

The Harper Report is now with Bruce Billson MP and will be released next Tuesday. This will be followed by a further period of consultation of 8-10 weeks. See Report page. See further 'Ian Harper competition policy review’s path to growth' (The Australian, 27 March 2015) and Joe Aston, 'Bruce Billson, Barnaby Joyce and lots of paper' (AFR, 26 March 2015).

26 March 2015 - ACCC watching Heinz-Kraft merger

Fairfax is reporting that the ACCC is watching the proposed merger between Heinz and Kraft, announced overnight. The transaction is subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals (among other things). See Madeleine Heffernan, 'ACCC keeps its eye on Heinz-Kraft $59b merger' (AFR, 26 March 2015) (also on SMH website). See also Heinz, 'H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group Sign Definitive Merger Agreement to Form The Kraft Heinz Company' (Heinz Press Room, 25 March 2015).

26 March 2015 - Fortescue releases statement on Forrest's iron ore comments

Fortescue Metals has released a statement relating to Chairman, Andrew Forrest's, comments relating to capping iron ore production. In it, reference is made to the provisions of section 51(2)(g) of the Act dealing with goods exclusively exported. The ACCC has, however, observed that iron ore is not exclusively exported from Australia. The statement can be viewed from the ASX site or attached to the following article: Elysse Morgan, 'Fortescue Metals defends chairman Andrew Forrest's 'cap iron ore' comments' (ABC News, 26 March 2015).

Plenty of media on the issue as well. See, for example:

25 March 2015 - ACCC responds to Forrest's comments

ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, has indicated that the ACCC will be looking closely at Andrew Forrest's comments calling for iron producers to work together to cap iron ore production, noting that 'any attempt by Australian businesses to encourage competitors to restrict outputs is a matter of grave concern to the ACCC'. See press release. See also Matt Chambers and David Crowe, 'ACCC investigates Andrew Forrest call for cap on iron ore production (The Australian, 25 March 2015) and Phillip Coorey and Lisa Murray, 'Joe Hockey rejects Andrew Forrest's 'cartel' call for iron ore cap' (AFR, 25 March 2015)

25 March 2015 - Fortescue's Andrew Forrest calls for iron ore production cap

At a dinner in Shanghai last night Andrew Forrest, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group' called for a cap in iron ore production to respond to price drops. See AAP, 'Twiggy hits back at big miners over glut' (Trading Room, 25 March 2015); Lisa Murray, 'Twiggy Forrest calls on iron ore miners to cap production to end price rout' (SMH, 25 March 2015) and Lisa Murray, 'Fortescue's Andrew Forrest calls for iron ore production cap' (AFR, 25 March 2015). Wow.

24 March 2015 - ACCC proposes to deny Qantas/China Eastern coordination agreement

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to deny authorisation for Qantas and China Eastern to coordinate operations between Australia and China. Submissions on the draft decision are due by 8 April 2015. See press release. See authorisation register.

23 March 2015 - ACCC does not oppose Denka/Mitsui’s proposed acquisition of DuPont’s chloroprene rubber business

The ACCC has announced it 'will not oppose Denka Performance Elastomer LLC’s proposed acquisition of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont)’s chloroprene rubber business'. See ACCC press release. See merger register.

22 March 2015: Ferguson: 'Business awaits Ian Harper's report on competition policy'

Adele Ferguson has an item in today's Financial Review regarding the imminent release of the Harper review final report. See Adele Ferguson, 'Business awaits Ian Harper's report on competition policy' (AFR, 22 March 2015)

19 March 2015 - Bannerman Lecture published

The High Court has now published Chief Justice French's Bannerman Lecture, delivered on 26 February 2015: French, The Moving Finger Writes and, Having Writ, Rewrites, Bannerman Lecture, Sydney, 26 February 2015.

18 March 2015 - ACCC to appeal Pfizer

The ACCC will appeal the Pfizer decision. See ACCC press release.

17 March 2015 - Harper Report to be released later this month

The Harper Report, expected for release this week, has now been delayed for release later this month.

17 March 2015 - ACCC reviewing Ramsay's proposed acquisition of Wollongong Day Surgery

The ACCC yesterday commenced an informal review of Health Care Corporation Pty Ltd (Ramsay's) proposed acquisition of Wollongong Day Surgery. Market inquiry letters have been sent with a closing date for submission of 2 April 2015. View merger register. See John Durie, 'Ramsay Health Care facing competition health check' (The Australian, 17 March 2015)

17 March 2015 - Grocery code of conduct review

The Senate Economics Legislation Committee is examining whether the proposed voluntary code would be effective and will report by the end of the month. The review follows the tabling of the new Food and Grocery Code of Conduct regulations in parliament on 2 March. Submissions closed on 13 March 2015; five submissions were received (NZ Food & Grocery Council, Office of the Australian Small Business Commissioner, Law Council of Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers and Retail & Supplier Roundtable). See my review page for more detail.

16 March 2015 - Container port regulation

The AFR has an item on Sims' call for the ACCC to be given authority to intervene in pricing disputes at Australia's ports. See Jenny Wiggins, 'Container ports need regulation to prevent soaring rents: ACCC chief Rod Sims' (Australian Financial Review, 16 March 2015). See also Lucille Keen and Jenny Wiggins, 'ACCC needs bigger role in regulating ports, says Asciano CEO' (SMH, 11 March 2015) and Eli Greenblat, 'Asciano and DP World urge ACCC action on ports' (The Australian, 12 March 2015).

16 March 2015 - ACCC monitoring TPG Telecom's proposed takeover of iiNet

The ACCC is monitoring TPG Telecom's proposed acquisition of iiNet Limited, noting a public review will be commenced once a submission is received from the merger parties (see merger register). See Paul Garvey, 'ACCC ready to review TPG-iiNet merger' (The Australian, 16 March 2015). See also John Durie, 'TPG-iiNet takeover deal cheered by market' (The Australian, 14 March 2015)

12 March 2015 - ACCC and AER publish International Insights for the Better Economic Regulation of Infrastructure

ACCC and AER have jointly published their tenth working paper, titled International Insights for the Better Economic Regulation of Infrastructure. See press release. View other working and discussion papers relating to regulated infrastructure.

12 March 2015 - ACCC proposes to authorise magazine pilot program

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise the Association of Magazine Publishers of Australia to run a pilot program with 20 newsagents to 'test the effectiveness of a proposed approach to address longstanding problems with the oversupply of magazines to newsagents'. See ACCC press release. See authorisation register.

12 March 2015 - Senate Economics Committee recommends s 46 divestiture bill not be passed

A couple of weeks ago Senate Economics Legislation Committee released its report on the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2014. The bill was introduced by Independent Senator, Nick Xenophon, last year and would have introduced a divestiture remedy for contraventions of the misuse of market power provision. The Committee (Senator Xenophon dissenting) recommended that the Senate not pass the bill. See my Inquiry page for further details.

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Hot topics

Competition Policy Review (Harper)

Harper Review

Read moreThe first major review of competition policy in Australia in 20 years is underway with a draft report released on 22 September.

 

Misuse of market power

Image of market power

Read moreAlways topical, the issue of misuse of market power is featuring prominently in the Harper Review.

ACCC takes on Informed Sources

Image of petrol pump

Read moreThe ACCC has instituted proceedings against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers alleging contravention of s 45.

 

Cartels and agency arrangements

TPA cover

Read moreThe 2013 arguably inconsistent outcomes in the ANZ and Flight Centre cases in 2013 have led to some uncertainty about the circumstances in which agents may be considered in competition with their principals for purposes of the cartel laws. Both cases were appealed and judgment is pending.

Resale Price Maintenance

Merger authorisation

Read moreIn December 2014 the ACCC granted its first ever RPM authorisation. In its draft report the Harper Panel recommend retaining the per se prohibition on RPM, but introducing a notification option.

 

First Tribunal merger authorisation

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Read moreIn June the Australian Competition Tribunal granted its first direct merger authorisation to AGL.

 

Images copyright: Images in the Hot Topic section (left column): male runner on starting blocks courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; gas pump filling nozzles courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net and price magnifier definition means promotions and savings courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.(right column): power transmission tower courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; business man and stock graph report courtesy of watcharakun at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; vacations computer key courtesy of Stuart Miles (Image ID: 10091676) at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.