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More delays in approval of Tatts-Tabcorp merger

Fri, Jun 9, 9:07am by Staff Writer

The saga over the Tatts-Tabcorp merger is expected to drag on until at least September with the Australian Competition Tribunal confirming it has asked for a three-month extension on its decision whether to approve the deal.

Tatts and Tabcorp had elected to take their bid for approval of the $11 billion proposal straight to the ACT after initially going through the regular Australian Competition and Consumer Council process only to cease that in a bid to get the all clear in a speedier manner.

But that tactic has backfired spectacularly, and instead of the merger progressing without objection, four parties fronted the Competition Tribunal to state their reservations over the two companies joining forces.

The ACT hearing over the past few weeks has heard Crownbet, Racing Victoria and’s objections to the merger on the basis of competition concerns.

In a hammer blow for the prospects of a speedy resolution to the matter, the ACCC then expressed its reservations to the ACT, saying it doubts the proposed public benefits of the merger.

It became apparent that ACCC would only give its approval should certain conditions be met.

The ACT announced this week it needed the maximum three-month extension on its decision and its determination won’t be made until September 10.

That thwarts Tatts and Tabcorp’s hopes of having clearance granted by the end of the 2016-17 financial year and would indicate the ACT too has reservations about the deal.

It may impose certain restrictions which may prove too onerous for the parties to proceed with the merger, which would open up a fight for Tatts.

It is not the first major challenge the marriage of two of Australia’s biggest gambling companies has faced.

The Pacific Consortium, funded by Macquarie Bank, made an ambitious swoop for Tatts, initially to take over its lottery business and sell off the wagering arm.

It then made a second bid for the entire Tatts business which was subsequently rejected by the tatts board.

Both Tabcorp and Tatts are committed to a merger but can not do so without the approval of competition regulatory bodies.

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