AN APPLICATION by the competition regulator for leave to appeal a Federal Court decision green-lighting the Pacific National acquisition of an intermodal terminal at Acacia Ridge has been rejected.

The High Court dismissed the ACCC’s application for special leave, meaning the decision of the Full Federal Court stands, and Pacific National can proceed with its acquisition.

In a statement, Pacific National welcomed the ruling.

“Pacific National welcomes today’s decision and is looking forward to adding the Acacia Ridge Terminal to its network of efficient freight terminals,” the company said in a statement.

“This network helps provide Pacific National with the ability to deliver crucial daily rail freight services for Australian businesses and communities as they recover from the negative economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.”

ACCC chair Rod Sims said they sought special leave to appeal because the case “raised important issues about the application of Australia’s merger laws”.

“We considered that Pacific National’s acquisition of the Acacia Ridge terminal would likely have a significant impact on competition in intermodal rail, with flow-on effects for consumers and the wider economy,” Mr Sims said.

“The ACCC’s case centred around the proposed acquisition of the Acacia Ridge intermodal terminal in Brisbane,” he said.

“With the acquisition set to proceed, Australia will be left in the position where the dominant intermodal rail linehaul services provider will also own the critical infrastructure that potential competitors need to access in order to compete.”

Mr Sims said the ACCC faced challenges in contested merger cases where a forward looking merger test was applied.

“The nature of the test, and the inherent uncertainties in predicting the future, make it difficult to prove that a change in the market structure after the merger will substantially lessen competition in the future,” he said.