Compare the Market and iSelect both offer services to consumers that compare various insurance, energy, and financial products and services - and Innovation Holdings is a subsidiary of the IHA Group, which owns Compare the Market.
“We examined the acquisitions carefully, because iSelect is a major competitor to Compare the Market for comparison services,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.
“In some cases, even minority shareholdings in a competitor can lead to muted competition between the parties.”
IHA already owns approximately 29% of the shares of iSelect, which it acquired through a series of acquisitions beginning in 2018 without prior consultation with the ACCC.
IHA is now considering acquiring up to an additional 6% of the shares of iSelect.
The ACCC said in a statement on Thursday that it found that an IHA shareholding in iSelect of up to 35% would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any potential market for comparison services, including in any specific product category, such as health insurance.
“We consider that IHA owning the stake in iSelect will not substantially affect competition in the market. Other routes to market exist for providers, including other comparison websites. There are also government websites available to consumers such as www.energymadeeasy.gov.au and www.privatehealth.gov.au,” Commissioner Ridgeway said.
The ACCC says it encourages consumers to make sure they know how comparison websites work, “in particular what providers they are actually comparing and who they are not comparing”, before relying on them to make a purchase.
“Comparison websites may not compare all the offers or products and services available in the market, so it is important for consumers to shop around. Further information can be found at Comparator websites,” the Commission cautioned.