Michael Bailey Deputy editor

Michael has been a business journalist for 12 years. He has extensive experience editing magazines covering funds management, commercial property and the travel industry. In 2011 he won a Citi Excellence in Financial Journalism award for a BRW cover story on economic indicators.

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Hard to swallow: ACCC looks down on Rafferty’s Garden takeover by Heinz

Published 08 February 2013 11:28, Updated 10 April 2013 07:32

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Hard to swallow: ACCC looks down on Rafferty’s Garden takeover by Heinz

It wasn’t us .... Rafferty’s Garden chief Michael Tinkler says the company isn’t to blame for bringing itself to the ACCC’s attention. Photo: Erin Jonasson

The managing director of baby food supplier Rafferty’s Garden has denied that his statements about the company’s number two market position have anything to do with the competition watchdog’s negative view of its proposed takeover by the number one player, Heinz.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission opined on Wednesday that Heinz buying Rafferty’s Garden – which is owned by private equity firm Anacacia Capital – would remove its fiercest competitor and potentially cause prices to rise for both “wet” and “dry” baby food, sub-categories in which Rafferty’s Garden has a 32 per cent and 25 per cent market share respectively.

“I don’t remember ever gloating about our number two position,” says Rafferty’s Garden chief executive Michael Tinkler. “It’s a matter of public record, published in Retail World annually.”

Both Heinz and Rafferty’s Garden will make further submissions and meet again with ACCC officers during a three-week consultation period ordered by the regulator.

“We’re confident they will realise we actually play in very different parts of the marketplace – our brands complement each other,” Tinkler says.

The only “plan B” for Rafferty’s Garden, if the ACCC rebuffs Heinz’s bid, is “business as usual”, according to Tinkler.

“It’s not possible to break up the company – we’re a one-category player. As far as we’re concerned, if they knock us back we’ll continue to conduct business and grow.”

Tinkler does not believe that Rafferty’s Garden is being penalised for its success in building a strong market share since its formation six years ago.

“If we had not grown to be number two we’d be less attractive,” he says. “So here we are.”