Outcome of cases before the Tribunal on 3 August
Brenner Mills to pay R12m administrative penalty
Brenner Mills Pty Ltd has agreed to pay a R12 000 872 administrative fine for its role in fixing the price of milled white products and the timing and implementation of the price increases.
On 14 March 2007 the Commission initiated a complaint against Tiger Brands Ltd, Pioneer Food, Foodcorp and Pride and Progress Milling in the maize milling industry. The investigation was extended, after leniency applications were filed by Premier Food and Tiger Brands, to include other companies in the milling industry, including Brenner Mills, Carolina Mills and Keystone Milling.
The Commission found that between 1999 and 2007 the companies were involved in price fixing of white milled maize. They attended numerous meetings and held telephone conversations where they reached agreement on: the price of milled white maize products; a uniform price for wholesalers, retail and general trade customers and the timing and implementation of the price increases. The Commission said that through the price fixing arrangement, Brenner Mills and its competitors prevented and, or limited price competition among themselves in relation to the pricing of milled white maize products.
In terms of the agreement Brenner Mills has admitted that its conduct contravened the Competition Act. In terms of the settlement agreement submitted by the Commission, Brenner Mills confirms that the conduct ceased in 2006.
Apart from payment of the administrative penalty relating to affected turnover for the 2007 financial year, Brenner Mills is required to provide documentary evidence and assist the Commission’s prosecution of the remaining respondents as well as developing a compliance law programme and provide a copy to the Commission within 60 days.
The following respondents have concluded settlement agreements for price setting in the milled which products market for this complaint referral:
1. Blinkwater Mills admitted to contravening s 4(19)(b)(i) and paid and administrative penalty of pay R10 112 504.20
2. Keystone Milling (Pty) Ltd has admitted to contravening s 4(1)(b)(i) and paid an administrative penalty of R6 730 349.00
3. Carolina Rollermeule (Pty) Ltd admitted to contravening s 4(1)(b)(i) and agreed to pay R4 417 546.00
Tiger Brands Limited and Premier Food (Pty) Ltd are leniency applicants in this case.
Takealot merger with Naspers subsidiary MIH eCommerce Holdings approved
The Tribunal has approved the merger of MIH eCommerce Holdings, ultimately owned by Naspers Ltd, and online retailer Takealot Online.
Takealot Online purchased Kalahari.com in 2015 from MIH Internet Africa in an intermediate merger. The merger between Takealot Online and Kalahari.com formed a single platform intended to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities in online retail in South Africa.
MIH Holdings controls MIH Internet Africa, MIH eCommerce Holdings and Wechat Africa Services, and is in turn wholly-owned by Naspers. MIH eCommerce does not directly or indirectly control any company.
Takealot owns Mr Delivery, active in the provision of rapid delivery and courier services and food delivery, and Superbalist, an online retailer of footwear, apparel and accessories. Mr Delivery provides courier services to Takealots online shopping offering and Superbalist.
The merger was approved without conditions.
Decision on merger between Media24 and Novus pending
The Tribunal has yet to deliver a decision on the proposed merger of print publication business Media24 (Pty) Ltd (Media24) and listed commercial printing operation Novus (Novus). The Tribunal will make a decision after it has received outstanding information.
The merger was approved by the Commission on condition that Media24 divest itself of its majority stake in Novus.
Novus controls a number of firms including Paarl Coldset and Paarl Media Holdings and provides a range of printing services, in particular publication gravure, heat-set web offset, cold-set web offset, digital and label printing.
The effect of the divestiture is that Media24s shareholding in Novus would be transferred to Naspers’ various shareholders in the proportion of their Naspers shares.
The proposed condition follows the successful appeal by Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers Limited against the Novus listing in 2015. Caxton argued that the listing effectively gave Media24 sole control over Novus and therefore should have received approval from the competition authorities as a merger.
The Competition Tribunal initially dismissed the application but an appeal was upheld by the Competition Appeal Court. Under the ruling, Media24 had to notify the competition authorities of a change of control. This was filed with the Competition Commission in February 2016.
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