John Durie: ACCC concerned Trans-Tasman tourism merger could raise prices

John Durie ACCC competition google

Source: Private Media/AAP/Dean Lewins and Lukas Coch

The ACCC has raised concerns with the proposed merger between New Zealand-based camper van supplier THL and Brisbane-based Apollo with a final decision now due on July 21.

The move, flagged in this SmartCompany column earlier this week, was based on concerns the deal would result in higher prices.

The two are the dominant players in the market controlling brands including Maui, Britz, Star and Apollo.

Apollo boss Luke Trouchet had argued argued the merger would be the best post-pandemic launchpad for the recovery of the businesses on the lopcal and world markets.

In a statement the ACCC said: “The acquisition of Apollo will remove THL’s closest and largest competitor for motorised RV rentals in Australia. Market feedback indicates that THL and Apollo are by far the two largest suppliers in this market.”

Under the deal the Trouchet family and other shareholders in the publicly-listed Apollo would own 25% of THL.

“Market feedback indicates that other RV rental suppliers lack the scale to replace the competition lost by Apollo being acquired,” said ACCC mergers commissioner Stephen Ridgeway.

“Furthermore, our inquiries have not identified that new entry or expansion by other RV suppliers is likely to provide a strong competitive constraint on a combined THL and Apollo.”

The ACCC said is also examining the extent to which peer-to-peer platforms compete with traditional RV rental suppliers. Peer-to-peer networks provide platforms for private RV owners to offer their vehicles for rent.

Examples of peer-to-peer networks include Camplify, Camptoo and Outdoorsy. THL would have a minority share in Camplify following the acquisition.

“Our review to date has found that peer-to-peer platforms do not currently provide a strong constraint on traditional RV rental suppliers,” Ridgeway said.

“As a result of market feedback so far, we are concerned that consumers may end up paying more to rent RVs, or receive lower quality and service, as a result of the proposed acquisition.”

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