After the information was made public, TPG’s share price fell 13.5 per cent wiping about $1 billion from its market value. Media notification of the regulator’s decision to nix the merger was released after 3.30pm, with the reasons for its opposition to the deal revealed about an hour later.
ACCC chief operating officer Rayne de Gruchy said in a statement the issue had been rectified by applying a patch to the software.
“We apologise unreservedly for this unfortunate and serious incident,” Ms de Gruchy said.
“The ACCC has successfully managed highly market-sensitive commercial information for decades and this is the first time, to our knowledge, that a merger decision has been released in this manner,” she said.
A spokesman for the Australian Stock Exchange said on the day of the issue that it was “very rare” for this type of information to be disclosed without the ASX being informed first.
The regulator’s chairman Rod Sims, who is currently overseas, blamed “lousy” computer systems for the blunder last week and described it as an “embarrassing” situation for the organisation.
He has since faced a firestorm of criticism over the decision itself, with Vodafone and TPG describing it as a “fantastical” decision that is not based in the reality of the market for telecommunications companies.
The telcos are expected to launch an appeal in Federal Court over the next few weeks.