MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (Nov. 28, 1 p.m. ET) — Australia's competition watchdog is investigating whether global packaging supplier Amcor Ltd.'s proposed acquisition of flexible packaging supplier Aperio Group Australia Pty. Ltd. would lessen competition in the market.
Even if Melbourne-based Amcor receives approval to proceed with the purchase from the Canberra-based Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), it will have to outbid other buyers that have shown interest in taking over Aperio.
Melbourne-based Aperio says it has 20 percent of Australia's flexible packaging market and employs 1,150. Its annual revenue is US$339 million.
Aperio produces packaging for food, beverages and other consumables and broad industrial packaging requirements. It operates 12 manufacturing plants in Australasia: seven in Australia, four in New Zealand and one in Thailand. The group is owned by a private equity investor, Melbourne-based Catalyst Investment Managers Pty. Ltd.
Catalyst formed Aperio in May 2005 to buy U.S.-based AEP Industries' Australasian packaging assets. Since then, it has acquired several other packaging companies.
ACCC is considering whether Amcor's proposed acquisition breaches Australia's Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which prohibits acquisitions that substantially lessen competition in a market or are likely to. The A.C.C.C. is investigating the competitive effects of the proposed acquisition in areas where their operations overlap.
A Catalyst spokesman confirmed the company has received an offer from Amcor and “multiple parties” but would not name other potential buyers. He said the sale process is “continuing.”
An Amcor spokesman would not comment on the bid or the ACCC investigation.
Submissions to the investigation close Dec. 2. A final report is due for release by Jan. 25.
Aperio managing director Peter Sutton was previously head of Amcor's Australasian business, but was sacked in late 2004 following allegations he was involved in a price-fixing cartel with Amcor's competitor, Melbourne-based Visy Industries Pty. Ltd. The two companies formed a cartel to fix cardboard packaging prices.
In March, cartel victims who filed a class action against Amcor and Visy received US$92 million in the biggest settlement for cartel victims in Australian history.