The Australian Competition Tribunal has extended its deadline for ruling on the proposed $11bn merger between Tabcorp and the Tatts Group.

The tribunal was scheduled to make its ruling yesterday but has now decided to extend its deadline to 10 September.

Over the last month, the tribunal has held its hearing into the proposed merger and has heard from the two main parties involved, as well as from several groups objecting to the proposal including a number of rival gaming companies.

The tribunal is allowed to make one deadline extension and chosen to go with the maximum three-month delay that it can enforce, although it is possible for the tribunal to hand down its ruling before 10 September.

Last week the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) made a recommendation to the tribunal that the deal not go ahead, saying that any public benefit to the merger would not outweigh the competitive damage the deal would do to the Australian wagering market.

Andrew McClelland, QC, said: “The ACCC submits that the tribunal should not be satisfied that the proposed acquisition is likely to result in such a benefit to the public that it should be allowed to occur.”

The ACCC also advised that if the deal were approved, Tabcorp and Tatts would still need to negotiate conditions with the commission, such as those issues associated with broadcasting rights, and accordingly, the negotiations over the conditions would require a longer decision period.

Directors of Tatts have backed the Tabcorp proposal, and the two companies are pushing for approval together.  Tatts in recent months has knocked back two alternative offers.

Sources: AGB, Sun Herald, AFR, The Australian