Nutrien moves to ease ACCC's Ruralco fears
Landmark owner Nutrien has proposed divesting rural merchandise stores in WA, the NT and Queensland in order to ease the ACCC's concerns over the proposed $469 million acquisition of Ruralco.
The competition watchdog on Monday said it would seek feedback on the Canadian fertiliser giant's proposed undertaking, after its planned takeover raised fears over wholesale competition and discrimination against independent retail stores.
Nutiren's undertaking would require Landmark to divest three rural merchandise stores located in Broome, Alice Springs, and Hughenden to a purchaser approved by the ACCC.
ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the release of undertakings for public comment should not be interpreted as a signal that the bid for Ruralco will be cleared.
"The undertaking seeks to address only local issues in Broome, Alice Springs and Hughenden, and does not seek to address possible issues at the national or wholesale levels," Mr Keogh said.
"At the national level, the transaction combines two of the biggest suppliers of rural merchandise to farmers. It also combines two of the largest wholesalers to independent retail outlets."
Landmark supplies rural merchandise through its 225 retail stores across the country, as well as supplying independent stores on a wholesale basis.
It is also a wool broker, livestock agent and export services provider, a real estate agency and agricultural insurance broker.
ASX-listed Ruralco provides a similar range of services through 106 rural merchandise stores nationally, and also supplies member stores via its wholesale arm, CRT.
The ACCC said parties wishing to make submissions on Nutrien's proposed divestments should do so by August 5, with the final decision on the matter to be delivered on August 15.
Ruralco shares were up by 0.48 per cent at $4.23 by 12.43 AEST, having gained 38 per cent so far in 2019.
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