Tabcorp will have to wait for three more months to find out if its plan to form an Australian betting behemoth with rival operator Tatts Group will be allowed to go ahead.
The Australian Competition Tribunal has been scheduled to make a ruling on Tabcorp’s A$6.4 billion (US$4.82 billion) offer to buy Tatts Group by June 13, but Tabcorp said the competition tribunal pushed out the deadline to September 10.
The tribunal can only extend the deliberation period once, and has opted for the maximum three-month delay.
“[The tribunal] anticipates that it may need additional time to consult with parties to ensure that its final determination and reasons comply with the confidentiality regime established by the tribunal,” Tabcorp said in a statement.
Tabcorp agreed in October to acquire Tatts in a bid to fend off the growing challenges from internationally-licensed online rivals, but the merger proposal has been hit with several objections from domestic gaming operators as well as Racing Victoria.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised several “issues that may raise concerns,” including that the combination of Tabcorp’s Sky Racing broadcasting operation and Tatts’ retail wagering operations “is likely to materially increase the market power currently held by Tabcorp in its dealings with licensed venues and racing media right holders.”
Other potential issues of concern involve whether rival betting operators will be able to compete for key inputs – pooling arrangements, access to racing vision, etc. – as well as for exclusive regional wagering licenses. The ACCC is also uneasy over a merged Tabcorp-Tatts gaming services operation potentially having access to commercially sensitive data of pokies venues, but noted that there appears to be “limited competition overlap” in the two companies’ retail wagering operations.
The ACCC was going to release its final decision on the merger last May 4, but Tabcorp decided to withdraw from the ACCC’s approval process in March and instead took the matter directly to the competition tribunal.
“Tabcorp and Tatts are progressing the other government and regulatory approvals required for the transaction and working towards implementing the transaction in the third quarter of 2017,” Tabcorp said.