Dreyfus's Namoi Bid Faces ACCC Scrutiny, Rivals Olam

ACCC flags competition fears over Dreyfus's Namoi Cotton bid, potentially monopolizing cotton ginning in Northern Australia.

By Mackenzie Crow

5/15, 22:06 EDT

Key Takeaway

  • ACCC concerns over Louis Dreyfus's bid for Namoi Cotton could "substantially lessen competition" in cotton ginning services in Australia.
  • The acquisition battle between Louis Dreyfus and Olam Agri highlights Namoi's strategic value, with Olam's offer at A$144 million.
  • ACCC also scrutinizes the merger's impact on cotton lint and seed marketing, seeking submissions by May 30 for a detailed review.

Regulatory Concerns Over Merger

Australia's competition watchdog, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), has expressed apprehensions regarding the proposed acquisition of Namoi Cotton Ltd. by Louis Dreyfus Co. The ACCC's primary concern is that the merger could "substantially lessen competition" in the cotton ginning services sector in the north of Western Australia and Northern Territory. This area is significant as Louis Dreyfus Co. would operate the only two cotton gins available, potentially leading to higher prices or reduced service levels for ginning services. ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway highlighted the potential for this acquisition to result in less competitive outcomes for growers in these regions.

Market Dynamics and Offers

The backdrop to this regulatory scrutiny is a competitive tussle between Louis Dreyfus and Olam Agri Holdings Ltd. for control of Namoi Cotton. Since January, both commodity traders have been vying for acquisition, with Olam Agri's latest offer valuing Namoi at approximately A$144 million ($97 million). This bidding war underscores the strategic importance of Namoi Cotton in the Australian agricultural sector and the broader implications for the cotton market dynamics in the region.

Competition in Cotton Lint and Seed Marketing

Further to the concerns over cotton ginning services, the ACCC is also investigating the potential impact of the merger on competition in the marketing of cotton lint and seed. This aspect of the proposed acquisition is critical as it touches on the broader market for cotton products beyond ginning services. The ACCC has called for submissions in response to its statement of issues by May 30, indicating a thorough review process aimed at safeguarding competitive market conditions.

Management Quotes

  • Stephen Ridgeway, ACCC Commissioner:

    "If this acquisition proceeds, LDC will be involved in operating the only two cotton gins in the north of Western Australia and Northern Territory... may result in higher prices or reduced service levels for ginning services."