The Australian Competition Commission anticipates making a final decision on the merger between Angus & Robertson and Borders Australia by December 19. In the meantime they have requested additional comments and specific requests related to several items.
The commission suggests that the reduction in competition could result in decreased discounting and notes that Borders promotions are 'particularly innovative' with 'weekly discounts' and 3/2 offers. (Gosh!) The ACC invites comments that counter or support its' contention that a reduction in competitive tension would reduce discounting to a wide range of titles.(The commisson is also asking to what degree loyalty programs are important in supporting discounts.)
The merged entity will concentrate more than 25% of all retail revenue for the industry and they are looking for comment regarding how A&R/Borders may weild this power. Principally will the retailer be able to negotiate more agressively for better discounts and will this influence publication plans by publishers? With respect to this item the commission is interested in consumer research regarding purchasing behavior. (Good luck.)
Lastly, the commission requests information about local market competition even explicitly asking what the impact has been of the entry of Borders into the Australian market. They remain interested in the impact of smaller local markets of the entry of 'large format' retail stores.
There doesn't appear to be too much consideration on the impact of international web retailing such as amazon.com or b&n.com. Both of these retailers are well known to book buyers in this market. (While they note the merged entity will represent more than 25% of the market it is unlikely that they have any idea how much retail business is off-shore, and it is likely to be considerable especially given territory rights issues that can limit selection and the weak US dollar).
It looks like this merger will be approved: Whether there will be any constraints placed on the merged entity remains to be seen.