Competition Commission of Mauritius Launches Investigation into Cross-Border Money Transfers


On 06 May 2015, the Competition Commission of Mauritius (“CCM”) identified the potential restrictive business practice which may exist between The Western Union Company (“Western Union”) and MoneyGram International Inc (“MoneyGram”) as a result of exclusive agreements (“Agreements”) put in place between the two companies.

The Agreements are purportedly entered into separately between the two companies and certain agents, which in turn, potentially prohibit the Agents from supplying competing services to their clients (the Agreements are not entered into between the two firms themselves, and thus do not constitute horizontal agreements) . These Agreements could have the further anti-competitive effect of creating a barrier to entry and possible foreclosure effects.

The CCM has indicated that they have not reached a conclusion yet as to whether these Agreements are in fact anti-competitive. It will also have to be seen whether there are any efficiency arguments would could possible justify such an exclusionary act (if the conduct does in fact breach any provision of the Competition Act, 2007 (the “Act”)).

As far as potential remedies are concerned, the conduct mentioned above could potentially fall under one of two main categories. The CCM could either view the Agreements as constituting “Other restrictive agreements” and/or “Monopoly situations” in terms of Section 45 or 46 of the Act, respectively.

A monopoly will be deemed to exist, in terms of the Act, if one enterprise provides at least 30% of the goods or services on the relevant market or, 70% of the goods or services on the relevant market are provided by 3 or fewer enterprises.

A monopoly situation may be subject to review if the CCM has reasonable grounds to believe that the enterprise(s) are engaging in conduct which: “Has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition; or In any other way constitutes exploitation of the monopoly situation.”

As far for the possible penalties and/or remedies that may be imposed for breaching either Section 45 or 46, no financial penalties may be imposed by the CCM for violations of these two sections. Thus, in terms of the Act, the only type of vertical conduct which could lead to a financial penalty being imposed, is what is commonly known as ‘minimum price resale maintenance’. Thus, unlike many other African countries such as South Africa, a company who abuses its dominant position will not be exposed to financial liability, despite such conduct having substantial anti-competitive effects (provided such a company does not engage in horizontal agreements, bid-rigging or collusion or minimum resale agreements).

An infringement relating to Section 45 or 46 could only result in the CCM issuing directives, which have as their purpose, the objective of restoring competition in the market, and are not to be seen as being punitive in nature.

Beer cartels: First fine sought in Mauritius leniency matter



Precedential leniency case yields initial fine

The Competition Commission of Mauritius (“the Commission”) has recommended fines of approximately €487,000 and €158,000 be imposed on Phoenix Beverages Ltd (PLB) and Stag Beverages, respectively, for their involvement in a cartel.

This is the country’s first cartel investigation to be made public, and the first time a party has used its leniency programme.

Phoenix and Stag have been accused by the Commission of colluding to divide the Mauritian and Madagascan beer markets between the two manufactures. The alleged agreement between the parties involved Stag leaving the Mauritian market, allowing Phoenix to dominate the country’s beer market.

Phoenix applied for leniency prior to the 24 May 2014 deadline and consequently received reduced fine.  Both companies assisted the Commission with its investigation.

The Executive Director of the CCM, Mrs. Kiran Meetarbhan, said:

“Many jurisdictions have developed programs that offer leniency because of the many benefits that flow from having them. In line with international best practices, the CCM has not lagged behind in developing a leniency program that has been reinforced so as to grant full amnesty to the first reporting firm in addition to offering judicial security to informants.

This investigation triggered our first leniency application since the CCM’s inception. This is also the first cartel investigation which I have launched in my capacity as Executive Director for which I have recommended financial penalties in addition to other measures to address competition concerns.

I wish to commend the main parties’ approach in this investigation which has revealed a true spirit of cooperation.  Leniency programs create powerful incentives to enterprises to race to self-report at an early stage. Evidence can thus be obtained more quickly, and at a lower direct cost, compared to other methods of investigation, leading to prompt and efficient resolution of cases. This case provides a perfect example of the manner in which a leniency application coupled with the active cooperation of the main parties have led to the successful completion of the investigation within a remarkable three months’ timeline.

The fine[] recommended on Phoenix Beverages Ltd takes into account its leniency application, absent which, the fines would have been higher. Phoenix Beverages Ltd took advantage of the amnesty provisions, which lapsed on 24th May 2014. We cannot stress enough the importance of the leniency programme with regards to collusive agreements.

Several factors help to free an economy from the malicious effects of a collusive agreement including a strong political support towards fighting cartels and a resilient commitment to equip the competition agency with the appropriate legislative framework and adequate financial resources. The Government has signified its intention to further empower the Competition Commission in order to better fight cartels. This was announced by the Prime Minister in his address to the Nation this year.”

Mauritian Competition Commission launches antitrust workshops for local authorities



Mauritian Competition Commission launches advocacy program for local authorities

In an effort to foster local government awareness of competition law and “culture,” the CCM announced on June 9, 2014, that it would renew its existing antitrust advocacy program.  Its press release states:

The CCM remains devoted to its goal of enhancing a competition culture aimed at achieving a better regulatory policy in all administrative spheres. By providing the participants with an understanding of the interface between competition law and the responsibilities entrusted to Local Authorities, the upcoming advocacy programme aims to complement the Ministry of Local Government and Outer Islands’ vision towards fostering a vibrant local democracy; promoting effective, transparent and proactive delivery of services by Local Authorities.

As AAT previously reported, the CCM has also recently announced plans to introduce a formal corporate leniency policy to improve their cartel enforcement, as well as a market-division investigation in the beverage sector.

The Big Picture: AAT History – Maturing competition-law regimes in Africa

AAT the big picture

Below, provides a brief overview of maturing antitrust jurisdictions in Africa

In the past two decades, 26 African countries implemented domestic competition law regimes, and that number continues to grow.

Many competition authorities who were previously deemed as being rather ineffective in their teething stages, have now begun to actively enforce their respective competition law provisions by launching market inquiries, prohibiting anti-competitive mergers, conducting dawn raids and becoming tough on cartel activity.

Below, we provide a short summary of some of the maturing jurisdictions on the continent (notably excluding matured ones (South Africa) as well as young regimes, including supra-national ones such as COMESA, as they arguably fall outside this definition.)


The Competition Authority in Botswana was launched in 2011, and with 33 staff members, of which nearly half comprises economists, and the authority has already conducted more than 20 dawn raids and launched market inquiries launched into various “priority sectors” such as retail, poultry and cement. The competition authority has blocked mergers which impede the empowerment of Botswana’s citizens on the basis of public interest concerns in maintaining sufficient local shareholding in certain key markets such as health care.


In 2011, Kenya implemented its Competition Act and now, given the new, and higher, merger filing fees, the budgetary constraints within the Competition Authority of Kenya (“CAK”) will be addressed and alleviated. The Competition Authority of Kenya announced its intention to launch investigations into claims of powerful cartels in the lucrative coffee industry in Kenya. The Competition Authority of Kenya plans to probe abuse of dominance by coffee firms, particularly in relation to marketing. In addition, the Competition Authority of Kenya has initiated an investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance by Lafarge in Kenya, which may result in Lafarge being forced to sell its stake in the East African Portland Cement Company.

Following the dawn raid conducted by the South African Competition Commission on Unilever and Sime Darby in April 2014 in relation to the edible oils industry, the CAK has launched an investigation into the edible oils market, in which local prices have been unresponsive to reductions in the cost of imported feedstock.

Namibia, Zambia & Mauritius

Both the Namibian and Mauritian competition authorities have announced their respective plans to introduce a formal corporate leniency policy to improve their cartel enforcement. In addition, the Mauritian Competition Commission will investigate whether Stage Beverages, of the Castle Group, and Phoenix Beverages Ltd have agreed to divide markets in Mauritius and Madagascar, given that the Mauritian Competition Commission has reason to believe that Stage Beverages and Phoenix Beverages have agreed that Stage Beverages will cease the manufacture and supply of beer in Mauritius, while Phoenix Beverages will do the same in Madagascar.

The Zambian competition authority has recently imposed significant penalties for price-fixing in the vehicle-repair industry. Furthermore, it has conducted dawn raids on two fertiliser companies.

AAT will continue its summaries (which we hope you find helpful in navigating the competition-law map of Africa) in its “Big Picture” series.

COMESA merger stats: January ’14 outperforms first 6 months of 2013

COMESA Competition Commission logo
Three merger notifications in one month set new record for COMESA Competition Commission.

After commenting on the rather lackluster statistics of the first 11 months A.D. 2013, we observed that some deal-making parties might be “flying under the radar” and asked the question:

Combine Point 4 above (low filing statistics) with the zero-threshold and low nexus requirements that trigger a COMESA merger notification, and the following question inevitably comes to mind: With such low thresholds, and the certain existence of commercial deal activity going on in the COMESA zone, why are there so few notifications?

Well, the young agency’s stats have picked up some steam in 2014, it would seem: based on a review of its online document repository, the CC has received a whopping three notifications in January alone.  They are, in chronological order:

  1. Mail & courier services: FedEx / SupaSwift – a transaction involving the acquisition of a South African courier with operations in multiple COMESA member states, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia.
  2. Agricultural distribution and financial services: AgriGroupe / AFGRI Ltd. – Mauritian SPV AgriGroupe seems to be taking AFGRI (listed on the JSE) private.  The target has operations in multiple COMESA countries.
  3. Generic pharmaceuticals: CFR Inversiones SPA / Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd. – Chilean CFR is buying all of South African off-patent pharmaceuticals manufacturer Adcock’s shares. Notably, the buyer has no COMESA activities; target is active in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
(c) AAT
Merger notification stats for COMESA as of Feb. 2014


  • Activity has increased dramatically.  Is it a coincidence & a statistically irrelevant blip on the radar screen?  This remains to be seen. The parties are – unlike last year’s – not “repeat parties” and therefore the increase in notifications seems to be natural/organic growth, if you will, rather than a case of the same bear falling into the same honey-trap multiple times…
  • The Competition Commission has listened to its critics (including this blog). Notably, the CC now clearly identifies the affected member-state jurisdictions in the published notice – a commendable practice that it did not follow in all previous instances, and which AAT welcomes.

Post-scriptum: Adding up the total 2013 tally of notifications, the Tractor & Grader Supplies Ltd / Torre Industrial Holdings transaction (notified after our prior statistics post in November 2013) brought the sum-total of COMESA merger filings to 11 for FY2013.

New interim competition chief in Mauritius


The Mauritian Competition Commission named Mrs. Kiran Meetarbhan as new officer-in-charge and its acting head in this 25. March press release.

The release provides:

The CCM today announces that after the departure of the former Executive Director, Dr. Sean F. Ennis, Mrs. Kiran N. Meetarbhan has been appointed as Officer – In – Charge of the Competition Commission, for the time being. Since the inception of the CCM, Mrs. Meetarbhan has been the Deputy Executive Director of the Commission and she has also cumulated the function
of Chief Legal Adviser.
Mrs. Meetarbhan has extensive experience in Competition Law and Policy and is recognized as an expert in competition law and Policy for small states, by the Small State Network for Economic Development (SSNED).  She has been involved in the drafting of several legislation including, the Competition Commission Rules of Procedure and the CCM Guidelines.
Mrs Meetarbhan is a Barrister at Law and holds a Master in Business Administration and qualification in Accounting from the London Chamber of Commerce.
She has been the Manager for Legal Affairs of the Mauritius Offshore Business Activities Authority (MOBAA) in 1997. In 2001, following the setting up of the Financial Services Commission, she continued her career as Executive – Legal until 2003 when she was appointed as Head of Surveillance for Insurance and Pensions. In 2007, after having spent one year at the State Law Office, she was appointed Adviser at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development until 2009.
From October 2011 to April 2012, Mrs Meetarbhan has also worked as an 
International Fellow for the United States Federal Trade Commission.