The ACCC has set the date for its decision on the merger of aggregation groups Connective and AFG.
Following on from the news that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had delayed its decision regarding the proposed merger between listed aggregator Australian Finance Group (AFG) and Connective for the second time, the competition watchdog has now revealed when it intends to make a decision.
The competition watchdog was initially scheduled to hand down its decision last week, but this was delayed last month after AFG requested more time to argue its case for the merger following the ACCC’s consultation on its preliminary concerns.
The ACCC has now revealed that the proposed date for the announcement of its decision will be Thursday, 18 June 2020.
Speaking of the decision, Connective’s chief executive officer, Glenn Lees, commented: “We are looking forward to the outcome of the decision and are confident we can satisfy the ACCC’s requirements.
“We believe the merged business will be in a unique position to offer brokers greater choice, and the benefits of improved efficiency in times of uncertainty.
“In the meantime, our focus continues to be supporting our brokers to help their clients through unprecedented times with regular communication and access to tools and resources.”
Both AFG and Connective have sought to allay the ACCC’s concerns regarding the merger, after it released its statement of issues suggesting that the proposed merger could reduce competition in the supply of mortgage aggregation services to brokers and increase the risk of the merged entity “foreclosing rival lenders” by denying access to its lender panel.
Speaking to The Adviser in March, AFG CEO David Bailey outlined that the group was in discussions with the competition regulator to assuage their concerns by “educating” them on how the mortgage aggregation model works in practice.
He said at the time: “Brokers want to be able to provide their customers with choice, and – especially as we move into best interests duty – the level of choice a customer has (in order to ensure they’re getting a loan for their best interests) is really really important.
“So, the thought that we would turn around and take lenders off our panel, or reduce access, isn’t something that would happen in practice; we actually want more lenders on panel.”
[Related: AFG seeks to allay ACCC concerns]
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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