The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given the green light to the acquisition of Brisbane's AirportLink M7 toll road by a Transurban-led consortium.
The consortium consists of AustralianSuper, Tawreed Investments Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) and Transurban.
According to Transurban Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Scott Charlton, the company has plans to take advantage of synergies for operating the AirportLink M7 as part of its broader Queensland toll road network. This move is expected to improve customer service related to billing, call centres, and electronic tag distribution.
The transaction has a value estimated at A$1.9 billion (US$1.37 billion).
Airportlink M7 is a 6.7km, multi-lane, free-flow toll road located in Brisbane, Queensland. Primarily a tunnel, AirportlinkM7 connects to:
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims stated:
"The ACCC concluded that the Transurban consortium's acquisition of Brisbane's AirportLink M7 would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any market."
"The proposed acquisition will consolidate the only two Queensland-based issuers of electronic tags to motorists. However, it is unlikely to allow Transurban to raise tolls, administrative charges or account fees to motorists in Queensland. These charges to motorists are generally regulated by the terms of the agreements between tollroad operators and state governments or councils."
"Transurban will continue to face effective competition in bidding to construct, own or operate any new tollroads in Queensland or elsewhere in Australia."
Tollroad operators bilaterally agree on roaming fees to ensure the interoperability of motorists' tags on all Australian tollroads. It will continue to be in the interest of Transurban, and other tollroad operators, to maintain the interoperability of motorists' electronic tags.
The proposed acquisition would result in a very small incremental change in the proportion of tags issue by Transurban, and the ACCC considered that, while Transurban may currently and in the future have advantages over rivals in bidding for future tollroads, the advantages it has will be unlikely to materially change as a result of the proposed acquisition.
Transurban is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Transurban develops, owns, manages and operates tollroads in Australia and the United States. Transurban has substantial interests in existing tollroads within Queensland as a result of the Transurban consortium's acquisition of the QM Group in 2014.
BrisConnections is the owner of the Airportlink M7 in Brisbane, and the associated electronic tag issuing business. The BrisConnections Corporate Group went into receivership in 2013. The AirportLink M7 and the associated electronic tag issuing business are currently the subject of a sale process bring conducted by the receiver appointed to BrisConnections Corporate Group. If the Transurban consortium's bid is successful, Transurban would be responsible for operating the AirportLink M7.