Source: Qube
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  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will investigate Qube’s (QUB) recently completed acquisition of the Newcastle Agri Terminal
  • Despite requests from ACCC to delay the completion of the deal, Qube finalised the transaction on September 30
  • A spokesperson for Qube says the company is disappointed by the investigation
  • The ACCC says the move exposed Qube and former owners of the Newcastle Agri terminal to potential legal action by the consumer watchdog
  • QUB shares are trading 0.46 per cent down at $3.28 at 12:52 pm AEDT

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating Qube’s (QUB) completed acquisition of the Newcastle Agri Terminal (NAT), opening up potential legal action in a move that has “disappointed” the export logistics company.

Despite requests from the consumer watchdogto delay completion of the deal after competition concerns, Qube notified the ACCC on September 8, 2021, and finalised the transaction on September 30.

The ACCC said it was not provided with enough time or information to assess the impact of the transaction. However it did not publish a timeline for the new investigation as the matter was now a merger law enforcement investigation.

A spokesperson for Qube said the company was disappointed by the investigation.

“Qube has also worked closely and constructively with the ACCC’s grain monitoring unit over a number of years,” the spokesperson said.

“However, the commercial arrangements between the parties did not allow for any further delay in completion of the transaction. Qube believes the transaction does not raise material competition issues however (it) will continue to provide every assistance to the Commission to allow it to complete its inquiries.”

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said the investigation would focus on the impact on the supply chain for bulk grain export through the Port of Newcastle and the ability and incentive for Qube to discriminate against rivals.

“It is worrying when a major vertically integrated player pays $90 million for key infrastructure used for the export of agricultural products without first obtaining the ACCC’s view on whether the proposed acquisition is likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition,” he said.

“By choosing to proceed before the ACCC had a chance to conduct its review, Qube and the former owners of the Newcastle Agri Terminal are exposed to potential legal action by the ACCC.”

Qube owns and manages up-country grain storage facilities in Narromine and Coonamble, as well as providing rail transportation in NSW. The Quattro bulk grain port at Port Kembla, NSW, is also owned and operated by the company.

Newcastle Agri Terminal is a bulk grain terminal in Newcastle’s Port. The terminal is one of two bulk grain terminals at the Port of Newcastle that serve export grain from northern NSW farms and storage.

The ACCC is currently accepting submissions from market players with concerns about the transaction or who want to contribute market information.

QUB shares were trading 0.46 per cent down at $3.28 at 12:52 pm AEDT

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