SYDNEY, March 24 AGL Energy Ltd on
Monday took legal steps in hopes of getting the go-ahead to
pursue a A$1.5 billion ($1.36 billion)acquisition of power
supplier Macquarie Generation after its plans were scuttled by
Australian competition regulators despite submitting the highest
AGL said it had filed an application with the Australian
Competition Tribunal for authorisation to acquire Macquarie
Generation, which was put up for sale by the New South Wales
government as part of broad scheme to privatise government
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
earlier this month blocked AGL's plans, saying a deal would have
reduced competition in Australia's most populous
"The ACCC's decision has significant implications for the
future of the energy industry in this country and, in our view,
can't be left unchallenged," AGL Managing Director Michael
Fraser said in a statement.
AGL said it wants the matter heard by the tribunal rather
than in an Australian court because the legislated timeframe for
decision making by the tribunal is normally shorter.
The ACCC on March 4 ruled that allowing AGL to buy Macquarie
Generation, which supplies 27 percent of New South Wales's
electricity, would mean the state's three biggest energy
retailers would own up to 80 percent of its energy generators.
That would raise barriers to entry and expansion for other
electricity retailers, the regulator said.
AGL has been counting on the acquisition to step up its
competition with Origin Energy Ltd and Hong Kong-based
CLP Holdings Ltd's Energy Australia in the retail
The main under-bidder to AGL, ERM Power, was ruled
out this month as an acquirer by New South Wales Treasurer Mike
Baird, who said its offer was too low. ERM is reported to have
bid about A$1.2 billion.
Analysts would not rule out ERM returning with a higher
offer at some point.
($1 = 1.1002 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Matt Driskill)