The Property Council of Australia (the Property Council) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Competition Review Taskforce’s consultation paper (the paper) on options for modernising Australia’s merger regulation.
The Property Council recognises that fit-for-purpose regulation for mergers is crucial to maintain competitive markets, reduce the abuse of market power and protect consumer interests. The Property Council recognises that any merger regime is ultimately a balance between priorities including promoting business growth and competition, considering economic efficiencies and market dominance, and weighing consumer and corporate interests.
The Property Council recommends that the Competition Review Taskforce strongly consider the impacts that a mandatory, suspensory regime would have upon the institutional property sector, and clarify what impacts a new regime would have on day-to-day business activity, including the sale and acquisition of property, particularly between Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
If a new regime captures the institutional property sector, the Property Council would support formalising the merger control regime, with a mandatory, non-suspensory notification above a specific transaction value threshold, alongside the maintenance of the merger authorisation function. If a new regime is to be suspensory then there is a critical need for a well-defined formal notification waiver process for non-contentious transactions, particularly as they apply in the real estate sector.
This submission outlines impacts to the real estate industry of the options presented in the paper, in particular the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) mandatory, suspensory clearance model, as well as a range of specific matters such as mandatory notification thresholds, the application of a ‘call-in’ test, timeframes for consideration by the regulator and the cost of filing fees.