On March, 8th 2018 the ACCC made a decision on the takeover of empty container park Maritime Container Services, allowing Qube Holdings’ to keep their recent acquisition after much research and investigation into competition in the market. This morning, the Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) acknowledged the decision in the following statement;
The Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) acknowledge yesterday’s ACCC decision to allow Qube Holdings’ takeover of Sydney empty container park MCS (Maritime Container Services).
The Commission investigated the supply chain for containerised freight through Port Botany, particularly the role of empty container parks. MCS controls Cooks River, a significant container park with rail sidings that is used by some of Qube’s rivals, often for regional containerised rail freight.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims noted that while there is a limited number of these facilities in Sydney, there appear to be sufficient choices for Qube’s rivals in rail, stevedoring and logistics.
The ACCC also considered whether the vertical integration of an empty container park with Qube’s existing rail assets, intermodal terminals and 50% interest in Patrick stevedores could result in preferential treatment for Qube or discrimination against Qube’s competitors, or reduce competition in the market for rail container transport services between regional NSW and Port Botany.
However, the Commission concluded that the existence of sufficient alternative facilities, provided by DP World Logistics and soon by Linx, would serve to constrain Qube’s incentive to discriminate against rivals.
The ACCC observed that “some large regional exporters have already moved to alternative container parks”, a finding echoed by FTA/APSA where some members have already reported exercising their commercial prerogatives.
With the continuing vertical integration of stevedores into rail and other landside activities, either directly or through their parent companies, open access and price monitoring regimes must be established at facilities essential to the port supply chain. Minimum protections must be in place for port users.