Wilson Parking New Zealand Limited has agreed to divest the leases of three parking facilities in central Wellington, and pay $500,000 towards Commerce Commission costs over anti-competitive behaviour.
The Commerce Commission filed proceedings in the High Court in 2018 following customer complaints that Wilson Parking had hiked prices at the Capital car park, which Wilson acquired in June 2016 without clearance from the Commission.
The commission alleged Wilson Parking substantially lessened competition for the supply of car parking in the Boulcott St area when it acquired the rights to operate the Capital car park.
"Wilson Parking's acquisition removed one of the few alternatives for motorists wishing to park in this part of Wellington's central city, which, in our view, was likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition" said Commission Chair, Anna Rawlings.
"The divestment of three car parking facilities in the Wellington central area will reintroduce a measure of competition and will mean that customers will have an alternative to Wilson Parking.
"Anti-competitive acquisitions are a priority area for the Commission and this is a reminder to businesses that if there is any doubt about the competition effects of a merger, they should seek clearance from us before completing the deal."
The total number of parking bays being divested is 850. Capital car park comprises 659 of those parking bays.
As a result of the settlement, the commission discontinued the proceedings against Wilson Parking without any admission of fault from Wilson Parking or any finding of a breach of the Commerce Act.
Ryan Orchard, chief executive of Wilson Parking New Zealand, said while they were confident in the litigation, it was pleased to have reached an agreement that will result in a co-operative relationship with the commission in the future.
"Wilson Parking is committed to continuing to invest in its operations to maintain its excellent service to our customers.
"We believe that our open collaboration with the Commerce Commission is mutually beneficial and is an example of how we proactively work with the communities and businesses in building support for future endeavours."
Wilson Parking must divest the car parking leases to a purchaser(s) approved by the commission. It must also notify the commission of any proposed acquisitions of new car parks in Wellington central for the next five years.