BRICS, energy, market study, South Africa

Second market inquiry focuses on energy sector (LPG)

south_africa

“Highly regulated” liquefied petroleum gas at center of second sectoral Commission inquiry

According to the South African Competition Commission, the agency has issued “Terms of Reference for the market inquiry into the Liquefied Petroleum Gas sector”:

The Commission has today issued the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the LPG market inquiry. The ToR formally launches and outlines the scope of the inquiry.
The Commission is initiating the inquiry because it has reason to believe that there may be features of the sector that prevent, distort or restrict competition. The Commission hopes that the inquiry will assist in understanding the state of competition in the LPG sector.

It comes on the heels of the first market inquiry into private healthcare, on which AAT has reported extensively.

The full Terms of Reference are available online here.  The market inquiry is expected to begin this month and is expected to be completed by October 2015.

According to the Terms of Reference, the objectives of the market inquiry include:

  • Analyzing the current regulatory pricing framework with the aim of determining whether regulation could be improved in order to limit the exercise of substantial market power by market participants;
  • Examining whether the supply bottlenecks in the liquefied petroleum gas industry may serve to create circumstances or incentives that serve to distort, prevent or lessen competition;
  • Determining whether features currently prevalent in the market increase costs of switching to a prohibitive level when customers seek to switch between resellers of liquefied petroleum gas;
  • Assessing the extent of the barriers to entry and general competition dynamics at various levels of the supply chain within the industry; and
  • Making recommendations that may serve to improve the state of competition.

The Commission has identified the participants in the market inquiry process as including business enterprises within the liquefied petroleum gas chain, such as manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers, other related enterprises, end-users, government departments, public entities, regulatory authorities, industry associations and any other stakeholders that may be able to provide information relevant to the market inquiry.

BDLive reports that approximately “300,000 tons of LPG is manufactured in SA annually, generating turnover of about R1.5bn. Six refineries, Sapref, Sasol Synfuels, PetroSA Synfuels, Enref, Chevref and Natref produce and supply LPG.

Major resellers such as Afrox, Easigas, BPSA and Total Gas distribute it bulk or in a repackaged form. Afrox, Easigas and Sapref also imported at least 6,100 tons of LPG through facilities in Richards Bay, Port Elizabeth and Durban.”

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BRICS, consumer protection, dominance, Extra-judicial Factors, personnel, South Africa

How the bourgeoisie hijacks antitrust: Justice Minister’s dubitable remarks

south_africa

“Bourgeoisie” in the people’s interest?

South African justice ministry’s highest-ranking member calls for strengthened competition enforcement against “monopoly pricing” and creation of “black bourgeoisie”

In an apparently rambling discourse, covering a vast swathe of subject-matter, South Africa‘s Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has been quoted as calling not only for the dismantling of the “over-concentrated” economy “in the hands of a few large companies,” but also for the creation of a “black bourgeoisie,” purportedly to counter-act the remaining racial imbalance in the country’s economic structure, according to an article in the South African Times Live:

On promoting competition in the economy, Radebe said the Competition Act would be strengthened to prevent monopoly pricing of goods such as steel and heavy chemicals.

This would make local manufacturing more competitive, and support infrastructure investment.

“The competition authorities will be further developed to act against cartels and ensure public interests are adequately protected in mergers and acquisitions.”

… Radebe was heckled from opposition benches when he said the emphasis would be on “creating black industrialists in productive sectors of the economy, and developing a patriotic black bourgeoisie”.

He broke from his prepared speech and asked, to laughter: “Why should it only be white bourgeoisie?

Is a “bourgeoisie” reconcilable with populist politics (and competition law)?

One cannot help but wonder what the connection between the elimination of the so-called “white bourgeoisie” and the reduction of “over-concentration” in the economy may be, if any.

Moreover, AAT respectfully expresses its doubt whether creating a “bourgeoisie” — any bourgeoisie (wholly regardless of its race) — is in the general population’s interests, as the Minister seems to think (“It is a people’s plan which has been adopted by the majority of our people and stakeholders. We are therefore calling on all South Africans to rally behind the implementation of the plan, including labour, business and civil society”).  As another article on the topic points out,

In Marxist philosophy, the term bourgeoisie denotes the social class who owns the means of production and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital, in order to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy in society.

The prototypical bourgeois: Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain, the protagonist of the play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670)

Radebe’s vision of a better & more competitive society? Replace Monsieur Jourdain with a new version of Sandton’s bourgeoisie?

Antitrust plan unclear

How the SA antitrust watchdogs (the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal) were going to be “further developed” – structurally, scope/jurisdictionally, personnel-based or otherwise – was not immediately clear.

The remarks were part of the minister’s statement in the parliamentary opening debate on the president’s state-of-the-nation address.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe (Image via Times Live, by: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI)

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event, Mauritius

Mauritian Competition Commission launches antitrust workshops for local authorities

 

mauritius

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.

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legislation, market study, The Gambia, Tourism

The Gambian take on the benefits of market studies

the_gambia

The Gambian Competition Authority’s commitment to investigating all prohibited practices in markets of any size

Shortly after the renaming of The Gambia Competition Commission to include consumer protection issues earlier this year, the Gambian Minister of Trade, Integration and Employment, Abdou Kolley, endorsed the ability of The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“GCCPC”) to continue pursuing any evidence of cartels, abuses of dominance and other illegal anti-competitive activities in any sector of the economy, as mandated by the the Competition Act 2007.

 

Minister Kolley

In its Strategic Plan over the next 3 years, the GCCPC indicates that it purposefully did not identify any priority sectors, to allow it to commit to investigating prohibited practices regardless of the market or its size. The Minister endorsed this approach given the need for independent agencies like the GCCPC to ensure that the competition playing field is leveled, that barriers to entry are low and that “the rules of the game” are reasonable. The Minister continued that simply having competition regime cannot produce or ensure competition in the market unless this is facilitated by government policies and enforcement.

Sectoral Market Inquiries: As in South Africa, whose Competition Commission has launched its first-ever market inquiry into the state of competition in the healthcare sector in terms of the Competition Amendment Act of 2009, the GCCPC is also empowered to launch “market studies” under section 15(k) of the Gambian Competition Act. A market study enables the GCCPC to consider both policies and enforcement simultaneously, thereby promoting competition in the economy, according to the Minister. The Minister explained that the aim of the market study was to assess competition in a particular area and recommend ways of improving it to the benefit of the economy and consumers in general.

As noted in our prior reporting, the Minister spoke at the opening of a workshop on the “Tourism Market Study” and to bring the concept of competition law closer to home, he placed emphasis on the increasing awareness about competition law within the tourism fraternity, forums such as the workshop will contribute substantially to the spread of competition culture and improving levels of compliance of the Competition Act, which would be beneficial both for the economy as well as individual businesses.

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dominance, event, The Gambia, Tourism

Gambian competition enforcer discusses tourism market inquiry

Gambia in the antitrust headlines twice in past week

7 days ago, it made news because of its changed name and dawn of a broader enforcement agenda, now including consumer protection matters.  Today, we are covering meeting by Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) with tourism industry stakeholders, as reported by AllAfrica.

Abdou Kolley, Minister of Trade and Employment, gave a Tuesday speech addressing his competition agency’s tourism market study, undertaken according to section 15(k) of the Competition Act, attempting to garner support for the benefits of free-market competition.  “Competition does not emerge on its own”, noting that the GCCPC’s enforcement and oversight activities were necessary to lower entry barriers and assure the absence of illegal price-fixing and other illicit conduct.

“The GCCPC is mandated by the competition Act 2007 to pursue any evidence of cartels, abuses of dominance and other illegal anti-competitive activities in any sector of the economy and I am confident that they will continue to do so.”

Minister Kolley

The Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board, Benjamin Robert, was quoted as agreeing with the minister, saying that the GCCPC’s report was “timely” and noted that the domestic tourism industry possessed certain characteristics of dominance in some sectors, with over 50% market share by some market players.

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consumer protection, Extra-judicial Factors, merger documentation, mergers, Namibia, public-interest

Namibian merger control: 1st deal of 2014 gets conditions

namibia

Namibian Competition Commission Imposes Conditions on Mining Deal

The Namibian Competition Commission has given its first conditional approval of the year in a gold-mine transaction, imposing employment conditions that require the purchaser not to lay off any employees for a minimum of two years from the date of sale.

Unemployment concerns drive antitrust ruling

The Commission stated, per reporting on AllAfrica.com, that there were no reasons to block the deal on a lessening-of-competition grounds under section 47 of the Competition Act, but that it was “concerned about the effect of the sale on employment, hence the imposition of the above condition.”

AAT reported last year on the revision of the Namibian competition law to include consumer-protection provisions, which would allegedly bar M&A deals not only on pure antitrust grounds but also on a more broadly defined “unfairness” basis.

In the current deal, buyer Guinea Fowl Investments Twenty Six will acquire the Navachab gold mine from AngloGold Ashanti Namibia, which since last year has had gold-mining competition from one other player (B2Gold) in the domestic market.

First 2014 deal with conditions

We note that no other cleared transaction has had conditions imposed since the beginning of the calendar year, as shown by the agency’s May M&A update 2014:

Namibian NaCC approved deals as of May 2014

Namibian NaCC approved deals as of May 2014

 

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BRICS, collusion, settlement, South Africa

Appellate competition body questions authority’s lenient fine

south_africa

Tribunal expresses doubts as to lenient fining level of Premier Fishing

The chairman of the South African Competition Tribunal, Takalani Madima, has asked the South African Competition Commission and Premier Fishing for ‘detailed substantial submissions’ on the settlement agreement reached between them, which lets the fishing company “off the hook” for an administrative penalty of a mere R2.1m (or 2% of its revenues).

2% fine not sufficient deterrent to anti-competitive conduct

According to a BDlive report, Mr. Madima is quoted as saying: ‘I am personally not too happy (with the agreement). I am still to be persuaded.’

The underlying conduct involves a cartel between Premier Fishing and others, in which the competitors shared information and pricing regarding the pelagic fish industry.  The Commission’s July 2008 investigation included the following companies as targets: Oceana, Foodcorp (note: the two former cartelists recently decided to merge and the competition authorities imposed conditions on the planned transaction), Premier Fishing, Gansbaai Marine, the SA Pelagic Fish Processors Association, Pioneer Fishing, Saldanha Bay Canning and others.

As the leniency applicant, Pioneer Fishing obtained full immunity from prosecution.  Others, such as Oceana, settled for approximately 5% of their fishing turnover.

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