ACCC will not oppose Liberty’s acquisition of Steelforce

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Steelforce Holdings from Gupta Family Group Alliance Australia (Liberty).

The proposed acquisition would combine Steelforce’s hollows manufacturing mill in Dalian, China, with Liberty’s existing long steel manufacturing assets.

Mick Keogh, ACCC deputy chair, said the ACCC looked closely at this proposed acquisition. We decided not to oppose it because we considered that imported products and rival distributors will continue to provide strong competition.

Liberty and Steelforce both manufacture and distribute long steel products, which are used for construction and industrial purposes.

“Imports have made up more than 25 per cent of the total wholesale supply of hollows in Australia for many years. In addition, imported long steel products which meet Australian specifications are also readily available,” Keogh said.

“In relation to the market for the wholesale supply of hollows, we believe Liberty’s position will be constrained not just by competition from imports, but also by Bluescope’s domestic manufacturing.”

The partnership will combine Steelforce’s long streel distribution business, which operates in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia, with Liberty’s existing distribution business, Liberty Metalcentre.

“The acquisition will make Liberty the largest distributor of long steel products in Australia, with a substantial market share. However, in each state, Liberty will continue to face competition from other distributors,” Keogh said.

“Our inquiries also found that customer of long steel products can easily switch between distributors of one is offering a more competitive price.”