(MENAFN - AFP) A merger between Australian gambling giants Tabcorp and Tatts is back on track after a tribunal on Friday approved the Aus$8.6 billion (US$6.5 billion) deal following a court-ordered review on competition concerns.
The decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) revives the long-planned push by Tabcorp and Tatts -- first announced in October last year -- to forge closer ties to try to cut costs and pursue opportunities globally.
"The tribunal is satisfied in all the circumstances that the proposed merger would result, or would be likely to result, in such a benefit to the public that the acquisition should be allowed to occur," ACT said in a statement.
Tatts Group has a betting shop network in the states of Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania and also operates a lotteries business.
Tabcorp Holdings runs similar operations in Victoria and New South Wales, with a broadcasting and media arm built around Sky Racing. It also owns Odyssey Gaming, a Queensland gaming monitoring business.
The firms both compete in online gambling.
ACT said Tabcorp would be granted authorisation to acquire shares in Tatts, subject to the condition that it sells Odyssey Gaming.
It added that the "detriments identified" by Australia's competition watchdog, the ACCC, were "unlikely to either arise or are not otherwise material".
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had raised concerns about the impact on Queensland's gambling services.
The stance by the watchdog, viewed as more consumer-friendly, led Tabcorp to take the plan to ACT to sidestep the competition concerns.
The tribunal approved the merger in June. But the Federal Court set aside that decision and referred the merger back to the tribunal for further consideration.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Friday the watchdog pushed for the court review to "clarify the law" and make it clear "the tribunal was required to take in to account all competitive detriment that is likely to result from the proposed merger".
The tribunal is expected to publish its full decision on November 22.
Shares in Tabcorp and Tatts were in a trading halt Friday ahead of announcements by both Australian-listed firms.