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Rail freight operator Aurizon has pulled the plug on the sale of its Queensland intermodal business to Pacific National and Linfox, but vowed to exit the business as soon as it is free to do so.
The news came as it announced that higher coal volumes and productivity and cost savings helped it lift full-year underlying net profit 10 per cent to $542.1 million.
Aurizon's terminated the agreement to sell the intermodal business after the competition regulator won a Federal Court injunction that temporarily put a pause on the deal. It requires Aurizon to continue to operate the intermodal business, which transports container goods by rail, until a further hearing in November.
"Aurizon will comply with the orders of the Federal Court today but intends to exit that business when it is free to do so," it said.
Aurizon said it remained committed to getting approval for a separate agreement to sell its Acacia Ridge Terminal near Brisbane to Pacific National.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims welcomed the court decision.
"It's very good news for Queenslanders because at least for the moment they still have a competitive rail freight industry," Mr Sims told Fairfax Media.
The ACCC started proceedings against both Aurizon and Pacific National last month, and alleged that the two rail companies reached "an understanding about Aurizon’s intermodal business that had the purpose and/or would be likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the supply of intermodal and steel rail linehaul services".
Separately, Aurizon remains engaged in a long-running stoush with authorities over how much revenue it can earn in Queensland.
Aurizon's full-year results for 2018 included record coal carried across its central Queensland coal network, up 9 per cent, to 229.6 million tonnes.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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