NEW ZEALAND: Beijer Ref insists it has not breached any competition rules and is entitled to HFC import quota rights following its acquisition of Heatcraft NZ in 2018.
The comments come after the New Zealand Commerce Commission announced it was opening an investigation into Beijer Ref’s 2018 acquisition of Heatcraft New Zealand Ltd, and its 2019 acquisition (via its subsidiary Kirby NZ Ltd) of a “grandparented” right to import HFC refrigerants into New Zealand.
Beijer Ref acquired Heatcraft Australia Pty in 2018 for around $55m, but this excluded Heatcraft’s operations in New Zealand, which Beijer Ref sold on completion to Reece New Zealand for competition law reasons.
The New Zealand Commerce Commission claims Beijer Ref retained the corporate vehicle, which has been renamed Kirby NZ Ltd.
The Commission says it will consider whether competition is likely to have been substantially lessened in any relevant market in breach of sections 47 and/or 27 of the Commerce Act. Beijer Ref did not apply for clearance for the 2018 (or 2019) acquisition.
Beijer Ref CEO Per Bertland told the Cooling Post that he believed Beijer Ref had done nothing wrong.
“The acquisition in 2018 was not influencing any market shares as Heatcraft NZ merely changed hands from the seller Lennox to Reece and thus have not lessened competition in the market,” Bertland explained. “In 2019 EPA decided to award Kirby NZ (which remained a Beijer Ref company, but non-operative) a grand-parented quota import right but that was not an acquisition per se.”
Beijer Ref says it believes it is entitled to those quota rights and has not breached any competition rules since there is strong competition in the refrigerants markets in New Zealand.