The Commerce Commission said last week it had filed proceedings in the Wellington High Court against gas network operator First Gas Ltd for anti-competitive conduct in acquiring the Bay of Plenty assets of GasNet Ltd.
The commission alleges First Gas, a much larger gas distribution business, engaged in anti-competitive conduct by:
- Having unsuccessfully offered to buy GasNet’s assets, taking steps to retrofit gas pipelines in areas where GasNet had already laid its own pipelines
- Acquiring the GasNet assets in December 2016 without clearance or authorisation from the commission, and
- Contractually restraining GasNet from re-entering the Bay of Plenty region for 5 years from the time of acquisition.
First Gas has filed admissions to the alleged conduct and the matter is before the court for a penalty hearing.
First Gas took ownership of Vector Gas Ltd & Maui Development Ltd’s transmission networks in 2016, and now owns & controls the only transmission network in the North Island. It also bought Vector’s distribution networks in Northland, the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Gisborne & the Kapiti Coast.
GasNet is owned by Whanganui District Council Holdings Ltd, a council-controlled organisation of the Whanganui District Council, and operates the distribution network in Whanganui.
Attribution: Commission release.