Full Federal Court dismisses ACCC appeal against Aurizon and Pacific National
On 6 May 2020, the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed the appeal by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) against Aurizon Holdings Limited (Aurizon) and Pacific National Pty Ltd (Pacific National).
On 14 August 2017, Aurizon announced its intention to exit its intermodal business by selling various assets to Pacific National. The ACCC opposed the sale and, as a result, some of the proposed arrangements were changed. However, the sale of the Acacia Ridge rail terminal remained a major issue. The dispute went to trial before the Federal Court where the judge found that the sale would have been illegal but for an undertaking for access to the terminal that the Pacific National produced towards the end of the trial.
The ACCC appealed this decision to the Full Court of the Federal Court. The Full Court dismissed the appeal. It found that that there was no need for the undertaking as a constraint, because barriers to entry were so high that entry in the future without the acquisition was no more than a ‘mere possibility.’ Frontier Economics advised the ACCC in their case prior to the trial and Philip Williams gave expert testimony at the trial.
Frontier Economics advises clients globally on transport and competition matters.