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Court clears path for Commerce Commission

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Thursday 28th June 2001

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The Commerce Commission is set to move on a number of delayed acquisition decisions following a High Court ruling.

The Auckland High Court has upheld the Commission's approach to the amended Commerce Act, and says it should apply the dominance test to applications for clearance of business acquisitions received before May 26.

Commission chairman, John Belgrave, says he is pleased that the court has upheld the Commission's approach.

"The Commission will now issue its decisions on the seven outstanding clearance applications as soon as it can.

Decisions-in-waiting include Caltex's proposed purchase of the Rubicon-owned (NZSE: RBC) Challenge petrol business, Carter Holt Harvey's (NZSE: CAH) application to buy the Central North Island Forestry Partnership, and Progressive Enterprises' interest in buying Woolworths NZ.

Before recent amendments, the Commerce Act prohibited business acquisitions that resulted in dominance being acquired or strengthened in a market. The amended Act prohibits acquisitions that substantially lessen competition a market.

The Commission took the view that applications on hand at May 26 should be investigated under the law as it was when the applications were made but Foodstuffs (Auckland) Limited took court action seeking a judgment that the Commission should apply the new test.

Foodstuffs has not yet decided if it will appeal the High Court ruling.

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