Minister finds praise for competition agencies, having increased fines “1000%”
The official South African news agency reports that Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has lauded the country’s competition authorities as “remarkably effective over the past 15 years.”
“The competition authorities have done solid investigations as they have stepped up actions against cartels and promoted public interest consideration when conducting investigations,” he is quoted as saying at the 8th Annual Competition, Law, Economics and Policy Conference in Johannesburg. “The remedies and fines imposed by the competition authorities climbed ten fold compared to the previous five years, call it 1000 percent, reaching over R6 billion.”
Minister Patel said the competition authority had come into their own with solid pipelines of anti-cartel investigation, the systematic consideration of public interest and issues in merger acquisition.
Setting aside the unorthodox phraseology (“merger acquisition”) in the quoted paragraph, the Minister’s remarks indeed echo what we at AAT have observed for well over a year now, namely the renewed and increased focus of the competition agencies on so-called “public-interest” factors, in lieu of (or in addition to) traditional, classic antitrust considerations, such as market power, concentration/HHIs, and prediction of unilateral/coordinated effects of proposed mergers.