May 30 • 21M

Tuesday's Chorus: Finally, a real carve-up threat

Govt threatens to break up duopoly if it won't sell groceries to new competitors; Pacific rebuffs wider China deal; Private equity firms kicking Sky TV tyres; Oil above US$120/bbl

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Bernard Hickey and friends explore the political economy together.
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TLDR: The Government has finally gotten serious about threatening the supermarket duopoly with a break-up, going further in its response to the Commerce Commission than the watchdog itself did in its final report (but not its draft report).

However, a potential change of Government next year gives the duopoly enough time and a perceived power vacuum to mount a successful rearguard action to deflect and fudge any real profit-threatening change. Also, the Government decided not to do the one significant thing that would disrupt the duopoly: a full structural separation of one or both the chains into separately-owned wholesale and retail arms. See more in my analysis below the paywall fold.

New Zealand’s supermarkets are much more profitable than their peers overseas. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/TheKaka

Elsewhere in the news this morning:

  • leaders of 10 Pacific nations decided against signing a sweeping trade and security deal with China overnight, forcing Foreign Minister Wang Yi to go away and rework the deal into something less comprehensive; Reuters, FT-$$$, ABC Australia

  • The European Union failed this morning to reach a deal to ban Russian oil imports after Hungary demanded financial help to cope with the embargo, although Brent crude prices rose 2% to over US$120/bbl on growing expectations a deal can be done because Hungary has agreed to a ban that would allow communist-era oil pipelines to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to remain open; and, Reuters, CNBC

  • two private equity firms have been encouraged by investment bankers representing Sky Network TV to take a closer look at its books, AFR-$$$’s Street Talk column reported this morning.


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