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competition

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has today announced that it has preliminary competition concerns with Aon plc’s (Aon) proposed merger with Willis Towers Watson plc (WTW).

Note, unusually, this is actually a merger not a takeover: a new combined company will be owned as to approx 2/3 by AON and 1/3 by Willis shareholders. While shareholders have approved the deal, competition authorities around the world are not inclined to give an automatic nod.

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The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has "granted authorisation" for a scheme to collect and recycle batteries. The scheme, known as "The Battery Stewardship Council," was originally launched in 2918. In December 2017, Elon Musk's Tesla company installed the then biggest Lithium-Ion battery in the world in South Australia. This week, it's been announced that its size has been increased.

"Owned and operated by Tasmanians for Tasmanians," says the website of the Tasmanian Ports Corporation. It's owned by the Tasmanian state government and, the website says "Over 99% of Tasmania's freight moves through our ports." In fact, TasPorts operates all but one port in Northern Tasmania. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission thinks that TasPorts tried to stop a company entering the pilotage and towing business with a view to lessening competition. It's the first test of a 2017 version of an existing law.

Australia is big. Seriously big. It is also empty. Seriously empty. With an estimated 90% of its population clustered into a handful of coastal cities (and some of those being small compared to Sydney and Melbourne), the cost of doing business can be disproportionately high in provincial and rural areas. One might think that would favour the internet and, for non-perishable, non-urgent things that's probably true although, as in many countries, the cost of delivery dramatically ramps up the cost of products in sparsely populated areas. What happens when towns become too small to support reasonable returns for businesses? Logic says "close up or combine." Australian regulators question that policy.

German company Siemens and French company Alstom are facing immense competition, especially in developing markets, from China's state-backed CRRC. The plan is to create a new Joint Venture entity owned by both companies and to transfer their respective divisions into it. So, while it is being touted as a merger, it isn't and nor is it a take-over. However, the fact that it's neither of the usual methods of combining businesses doesn't mean that competition regulators won't look at it - and opposition is coming from an unlikely quarter.

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On 5th July 2018, a UK company, Gin Festival Limited, went into administration and its website www.ginfestival.com was taken down .. So, what's this, then...?

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