ACCC to review Mitre 10 store sales

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is monitoring the acquisition of five Mitre 10 outlets by hardware chain Bunnings, and the group’s potential sale.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is monitoring the acquisition of five Mitre 10 outlets by hardware chain Bunnings, and the group’s potential sale.

“On 19 September 2008 Bunnings advised the ACCC that it has acquired five Mitre 10 stores in the past two years,” the ACCC said in a statement. “The ACCC is conducting a post-merger review of these acquisitions.”

The move fuels rumours of a major sales transaction, following news of Mitre 10 chief Bernie Bicknell’s coming departure. Bicknell, who replaced former head Frank Whitford in 2005, told shareholders this week he would not renew his contract in June 2009.

The Mitre 10 board is believed to have started a search for a new leader.

While Woolworths has held talks with Mitre 10 for several months regarding a sale, Bicknell said last week that the group is considering all options including a possible capital injection. He would not identify possible buyers.

The ACCC is also monitoring a potential sale, and the impact it would have on the $35 billion hardware industry.

Mitre 10 has suffered several setbacks in recent years, with its number of outlets dropping from 590 to 520 in the past 18 months. The group lags well behind market leader Bunnings, which controls 16% of the market compared with Mitre 10’s 6% share.

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