JOHANNESBURG – The Competition Tribunal, the regulatory body which provides final approval for large mergers in South Africa, on Wednesday approved the proposed acquisition of platinum group metals (PGMs) miner Lonmin by Sibanye-Stillwater, subject to specific conditions.

Last December, Sibanye offered R5.17 billion for Lonmin in a deal that would create the world's second-largest platinum producer.

This comes after the Competition Commission had recommended that the Tribunal approves the proposed acquisition, and set certain condition for the deal, including mitigating the negative impact of job losses on more than 3 000 employees who are likely to be retrenched.

In addition to the conditions agreed between Sibanye-Stillwater and the Competition Commission, a moratorium was put in place on retrenchments at the Lonmin operations for a period of six months from the implementation date as a further condition has been imposed by the Tribunal.

This excludes any voluntary separation agreements and ordinary course of business terminations, and does not prevent Sibanye from initiating proceedings in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, as long as such proceedings are not finalised before six-months from implementation of the transaction.

Sibanye also already agreed to honour Lonmin’s current and future social and labour plans as agreed with the department of mineral resources, as well as the agreements currently in place with the Bapo ba Mogale community.

Neal Froneman, chief executive of Sibanye, said they believe the terms of approval of the deal were "fair, reasonable and in the best interest of all stakeholders". 

"We are confident that the integration of Lonmin's PGM assets and Sibanye-Stillwater's adjacent PGM operations, will ensure a more sustainable and positive future for these assets and bring greater stability to the region.

"I would also like to acknowledge the comprehensive and pragmatic approach taken by the Competition Commission and Commission Tribunal, with all stakeholders having been given due consideration. This has ensured a fair and judicious outcome, which recognises Sibanye-Stillwater's commitment to the South African mining sector and the benefits that will accrue to all stakeholders."

The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the conditions including, amongst others, the approvals of Lonmin and Sibanye shareholders and the courts of England and Wales.

African News Agency (ANA)