The ACCC will not oppose the proposed purchase of Synergy Packaging by Pact Group Holdings, saying the acquisition is unlikely to reduce competition in Australia's rigid plastic packaging sector.

Both Pact and Synergy manufacture and supply non-beverage rigid PET plastic containers, with Pact focused on supplying large manufacturers, while Synergy services SMEs.

ASX-listed Pact Group manufactures and supplies a wide range of plastic packaging products throughout Australia, including non-beverage polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers. Pact is also involved in the supply of recycled PET raw materials, with interests in the joint ventures Australian Recycled Plastic, and Circular Plastics Australia (PET).

Synergy manufactures and supplies plastic packaging products from its facility in Tullamarine, Victoria. It primarily supplies non-beverage PET containers, including closures, to customers in the beauty, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industries.

Synergy was acquired by UK based RPC in 2017, and subsequently, in 2019, global packaging company Berry Group (FY21 turnover USD13.8bn, current market cap US$7.4bn) bought RPC, with Synergy remaining part of the group.

ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said, “Our investigation concluded that Pact is not a close competitor of Synergy, and the acquisition was not likely to substantially lessen competition.

“Synergy offers short product runs to small and medium business customers, and Pact primarily services larger customers with high volume orders.” 

The ACCC also considered that Pact would continue to be constrained by a number of rival manufacturers following the acquisition. 

The ACCC further concluded that the acquisition by Pact and its involvement in the production of recycled PET raw materials in Australia would not allow it to block Synergy’s competitors from accessing recycled raw materials, including because imported recycled PET materials would remain available. 

“The acquisition of Synergy would not materially change Pact’s ability or incentive to supply rivals with recycled PET raw materials,” Ridgeway added.

Some customers of Synergy expressed a concern that Pact may shift Synergy’s strategy to service larger customers at the expense of customers requiring lower volumes. 

The ACCC said it considered it unlikely that Pact would have an incentive to stop supplying smaller customers because Synergy’s equipment is primarily suitable for customers with lower volumes. 

In any event, the ACCC considered that alternative suppliers would remain for those customers.

“Our decision not to oppose is based on the specific facts and circumstances of this acquisition, and does not indicate that we would reach the same conclusion regarding future acquisitions in the plastic packaging industry,” Ridgeway concluded.

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