ACCC won't block GasNet takeover

THE competition watchdog has waved through Australian Pipeline Trust’s planned acquisition of GasNet Australia, on the condition Australian Gas Light sells its stake in APT.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said late yesterday it decided not take any action to prevent the APT-GasNet merger, on the basis that a “substantial lessening” of competition would not occur if the Alinta-AGL joint merger proposal also goes ahead.

“If the Alinta-AGL joint merger proposal schemes proceed, AGL will no longer hold an interest in the Australian Pipeline Trust and as a result GasNet will remain as an independent Victorian gas transmission network without significant vertical links to

Victorian and New South Wales gas retailers,” the ACCC said in a release to the Australian Stock Exchange.

But the ACCC said if the Alinta-AGL joint merger proposal does not proceed, it has identified “a number of serious competition issues”.

“If events unfold such that the Alinta AGL joint merger proposal schemes do not go ahead, the ACCC will take appropriate action in relation to the GasNet acquisition,” it said.

Alinta last week presented the ACCC with a new proposal for a possible takeover of APT, in which the Western Australian utility proposed to sell APT’s interests in the Moomba-Sydney Pipeline, Parmelia Pipeline and GasNet Australia Group, to allow the deal to go through.

Alinta currently holds a 10.25% interest in APT and will inherit further 30% following its proposed merger with AGL.

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