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CrownBet contests Tabcorp and Tatts merger

1 min  26.09.2018 Glen Ward, Geoff Carter, Miranda Noble

MinterEllison advised wagering service provider CrownBet in Australia's most complex, contested, controversial and high-profile proposed merger last year involving Tabcorp and Tatts.


Key takeouts


Significant decision that triggered a unique, contentious, and lengthy merger litigation that ultimately impacted the wagering market.

 

Regarded as the largest, most complex and contested merger clearance in Australia in recent times.

 

Assisted CrownBet in having its concerns addressed by negotiating with Tabcorp to give CrownBet access to digital streaming of Sky Racing.

 

In the most complex, contested, controversial and high-profile merger matter in Australia last year - and indeed in the last decade - Australia's two largest wagering market participants, Tabcorp and Tatts, took the unusual step of withdrawing mid-way through an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) informal clearance process, preferring to bring public scrutiny to the proposed A$11 billion merger in the Competition Tribunal.

This decision triggered a unique, highly contentious, and lengthy merger litigation involving Tabcorp, Tatts, the ACCC, CrownBet, the Victorian Racing industry and Racing.com.

Our involvement 

MinterEllison advised our client - wagering service provider CrownBet - to intervene in the proposed merger before the Australian Competition Tribunal. CrownBet played a critical role in contesting the merger. Despite the Tribunal granting authorisation (only the third merger authorised since direct applications were permitted), the decision was subsequently challenged in the Full Federal Court by both the ACCC and CrownBet. The Full Court set aside the authorisation decision, triggering a re-hearing and a new application before the Tribunal. 

Significance 

The case involved over 70 lay witnesses and seven economic experts - with approximately 100 statements or reports before the tribunal - and negotiation of a divestiture.

Whilst the Tribunal ultimately granted authorisation for the Tatts-Tabcorp merger to proceed, stating that the merger would create substantial public benefits and no material loss, MinterEllison assisted CrownBet in having its concerns successfully addressed by negotiating with Tabcorp to give CrownBet access to digital streaming of Sky Racing. The merger subsequently proceeded to completion in late December 2017, over a year after the initial merger announcement was made.

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