PCC approves SM’s purchase of Goldilocks

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HENRY Sy-led SM Investments Corp.’s (SMIC) plan to acquire pastry firm Goldilocks Bakeshop, Inc. has been approved by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC).

In a statement, the antitrust regulator said the acquisition— to be made via SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPH) subsidiary SM Retail, Inc.— could proceed after all parties submitted commitments to address potential competition issues.

A statement of concern was issued last month by the PCC’s Mergers and Acquisitions Office (MAO).

Identified issues include the possibility of partial or total foreclosure in terms of retail space at SM malls for competitors of Goldilocks and the potential for the SM Group to share a competing mall tenant’s business information to Goldilocks since the mall operator, through its point-of-sale (POS) system, had access to sales records.

The SM Group was said to have been able to address the concerns through initial undertakings following with a series of hearings and discussions. A final commitment was submitted on December 28.

“While selection of tenants in a mall is market-driven and based on consumer preferences, a mall operator should not be allowed to discriminate mall tenants and lease applicants, especially those that compete with stores owned by the mall itself,” PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said.

“Such discrimination or unfair treatment can come in the form of arbitrarily assigning competitor tenants to disadvantageous locations or unfavorable lease terms, which amounts to partial foreclosure. It can also come in the form of giving less favorable lease terms or completely refuse them lease space in the mall, which amounts to total foreclosure,” he added.

SMPH also committed to data protection, pledging it would not give Goldilocks access to competitors’ information including sales data captured by the POS system.

“The commission appreciates SM’s move to make these voluntary undertakings–proof that PCC and the business community can work together to promote a culture of competition,” Balisacan said.

The transaction is expected to allow the SM Group to expand its retail business. The Goldilocks chain has over 500 stores nationwide.

*This article is copied from the published news by The Manila Times, January 10, 2018, page B1 and is also available online at http://www.manilatimes.net/pcc-approves-sms-purchase-goldilocks/373403/.

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