Competition watchdog OK’s Chelsea’s Starlite acquisition

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Starlite Ferries is a roro shipping company that started operations in 1995 with the Batangas-Calapan route. –

THE PHILIPPINE Competition Commission (PCC) has given the green light for Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. (CLC) to acquire domestic shipping firm Starlite Ferries, Inc.

In an approval penned Oct. 26, the country’s competition watchdog said CLC’s 100% buyout of Starlite will not lead to a substantial lessening of competition in its relevant market.

“(S)ince there are no overlaps between the parties’ passenger/cargo transport services in the Philippines, the merged firm does not have the ability and incentive to engage in foreclosure, post-acquisition, and in any case, sufficient post-acquisition competitive constraints on the merged firm remain from other market participants,” according to the PCC.

The PCC is tasked to review mergers and acquisitions exceeding P1 billion to ensure the transaction will not stifle competition.

CLC, led by Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy, announced plans to purchase Starlite back in September, as part of the company’s efforts to speed up its expansion.

“By modernizing and expanding our operations, we can provide better shipping and logistics solutions as well as we make our country more competitive in capturing the increasing trade opportunities in Southeast Asia,” Mr. Uy said in an earlier statement.

Starlite currently has a total of 14 vessels, which includes five roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) passenger vessels purchased since 2016. The company’s vessels traverse routes in Batangas, Mindoro, Roxas, Aklan, and Romblon.

CLC listed its shares on the main board of the Philippine Stock Exchange last June, raising P5.84 billion from the sale of 546.59 million shares priced at P10.68 apiece. Of this, the company earmarked P3.2 billion for the purchase of other shipping and logistics firms; P1.78 billion will be for fleet expansion, while the remaining P245 million will be for the upgrade of ports.

In line with its goal to be the prime mover of goods in the country, CLC also has a 28.15% indirect economic interest in integrated transport solutions provider 2GO Group, Inc., along with the SM group which holds a 34.5% stake in the company’s parent, Negros Navigation Company, Inc.

Shares in CLC rose by nine centavos or 0.96% to P9.49 apiece at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday. – Arra B. Francia