Competition and Trade Practices

Members of the firm have a long history in the competition and trade practices field. Tony Hartnell, for example, was formerly a senior official of the Australian Government involved in the original development of the legislation now called the Competition and Consumer Act (Act), and was a very active member of the Swanson Committee which advised the Government on one of the three major overhauls of the Act since its commencement. John Atanaskovic was responsible for the first writ taken out of the Federal Court of Australia, which claimed relief on behalf of a large oil company against what is now called the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in relation to the exclusive dealing and restraint of trade provisions of the Act.

They and other members of the firm have since been involved in some of the most significant transactions which have set the "ground rules" on how the Act operates in M&A transactions (for example, the takeover bids by News Corporation of HWT/Queensland Press/Advertiser Newspapers, the formation of Goodman Fielder, and the combination of Swan Brewery with Castlemaine Tooheys), as well as some of the pathfinding court cases concerning the application of the Act more generally (for example, in the Super League series of cases where AH successfully acted for News Corporation, for SingTel Optus in the C7 case, and for Foodland in aborting the proposed Coles Myer/Rank acquisition of Foodland). 

AH has also successfully acted for various parties in gaining ACCC merger and other clearances of various acquisitions and other transactions: for example, for Transurban on various acquisitions (including its takeover bid for Sydney Roads Group, and Transurban thereby becoming the owner and/or operator of most of Sydney's toll roads); for Ontario Teachers Pension Plan on various infrastructure acquisitions; for SingTel Optus in relation to various phone and pay TV related transactions; for The Coca Cola Company on various transactions in the beverages industry; and for various media companies in connection with numerous media/communications related transactions (most recently, in relation to various acquisitions/transactions involving Nine Entertainment and Ten Network).

Atanaskovic Hartnell has in this area even acted for the ACCC, where the firm has from time to time been retained by the ACCC to advise the ACCC on the structuring, likely practical effectiveness, wording and legal operation of undertakings proposed to the ACCC by acquiring parties in order to gain ACCC clearance of their proposed acquisitions.