ACCC: THL’s proposed acquisition of Apollo raises concerns

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has outlined preliminary competition concerns with THL’s proposed acquisition of Apollo in a statement of issues.

THL and Apollo are tourism companies, headquartered in New Zealand and Australia, respectively. Both businesses are involved in the rental, sale and manufacture of recreational vehicles (RVs), such as motorhomes and campervans.

According to the ACCC, the acquisition of Apollo will remove THL’s closest and largest competitor for motorised RV rentals in Australia. Market feedback indicates that THL and Apollo are by far the two largest suppliers in this market.

“Market feedback also indicates that other RV rental suppliers lack the scale to replace the competition lost by Apollo being acquired,” said ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway.

“Furthermore, our inquiries have not identified that new entry or expansion by other RV suppliers is likely to provide a strong competitive constraint on a combined THL and Apollo.”

The ACCC is also examining the extent to which peer-to-peer platforms compete with traditional RV rental suppliers. Peer-to-peer networks provide platforms for private RV owners to offer their RVs for rent.

Examples of peer-to-peer networks include Camplify, Camptoo and Outdoorsy. THL would have a minority share in Camplify following the acquisition.

“Our review to date has found that peer-to-peer platforms do not currently provide a strong constraint on traditional RV rental suppliers,” said Ridgeway.

“As a result of market feedback so far, we are concerned that consumers may end up paying more to rent RVs, or receive lower quality and service, as a result of the proposed acquisition.”

The ACCC invites submissions from interested parties in response to the statement of issues by 19 May 2022.

The ACCC’s final decision is scheduled for 21 July 2022.

The transaction is also being reviewed by the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

THL operates businesses in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the UK. In Australia, its operations include RV rental, sales, and manufacturing. THL’s Australian rental brands are Maui, Britz and Mighty Camper.

Apollo has operations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the UK and Ireland. In Australia, its principal activities include the manufacturing, rental, sales, and distribution of RVs. Apollo’s Australian rental brands are Star RV, Apollo, Cheapa Campa and Hippie Camper.

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