ACCC sets out to police small supermarket mergers
The ACCC has announced it is sharpening its approach to reviewing small acquisitions of supermarkets, liquor, petrol and hardware stores by the big supermarkets. It wants to set up a streamlined approach where in exchange for every regulator’s wish list (more advanced notice and more information up front) there will be a dedicated team and more automated approvals of small mergers.
At the same time, the ACCC wants to police incremental acquisitions “as best we can and within our legislation” to try to ensure the big supermarkets do not gradually reduce competition in the market. It acknowledges that this will have to be done by assessing local mergers on the basis of local conditions but warns that it will oppose those mergers where it is justified.
The status quo will continue until a new process is put in place, so there is scope for further dialogue about how these approvals can be processed efficiently while still allowing the ACCC to keep an eye on the market as a whole.