By James Atkinson

The ACCC has given Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) the green light to settle its purchase of 28 NSW pubs, and the Woolworths-owned company is now in talks with the regulator about competition concerns it has raised in relation to five bottleshops.

The ACCC last night ruled that the proposed acquisition by ALH of five liquor stores – three of which are attached to hotels – would be likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the relevant local markets.

But ALH spokesman David Curry told TheShout the verdict was mostly positive, with the ACCC forming the view that the publican's acquisition of the remaining 28 hotels (some of which incorporate bottleshops) was unlikely to substantially lessen competition.

"We're pleased that the commissioner has improved the acquisition of the majority of the assets," he said.

"We look forward to continuing discussions on the remaining properties under review."

The bottleshops in question are the Chittaway Tavern in Chittaway Bay; the Albion Park Hotel in Albion Park; and the Ocean Beach Hotel and Umina Foodtown, both of which are located in Umina Beach. The Ocean Beach Hotel also includes the Ocean Beach Cellars, which trades under the same liquor licence.

"The ACCC considered that the proposed acquisition of the five takeaway packaged liquor retailers by ALH would lead to a significant increase in concentration and loss of competitive tension between takeaway packaged liquor retailers in the Chittaway Bay, Umina Beach and Albion Park areas," said ACCC commissioner Jill Walker.
The ACCC has advised that if ALH completes the proposed acquisitions of the sites in Chittaway Bay, Albion Park, and Umina Beach, then the ACCC reserves its rights to apply to the Federal Court for appropriate orders.

Curry told TheShout ALH would commence settlement of the 28 pubs on Monday.

Stuart Laundy, director of Laundy Hotel Group (LHG) and architect of the deal told TheShout the sellers are happy for the transaction to be finally drawing to a close.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed our ongoing relationship with ALH," he said.

In a related matter, the ACCC is continuing to review the proposed acquisition of the Caringbah Hotel by ALH.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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