JOHANNESBURG – The Competition Tribunal has ruled that two of South Africa’s tobacco conglomerates, Gold Leaf Tobacco and Phlip Morris South Africa, be recognised as participants in the ongoing large merger proceedings involving the planned acquisition by cigarette giant British American Tobacco (BAT) of South African e-cigarette maker Twisp.
The proposed merger, which initially raised concerns of high prices of vaping products if it went ahead because of Twisp’s pole position in the product category, was now to be reviewed with Gold Leaf and Phillip Morris as participants with a right to access case documents, file witness statements, give evidence at the hearing and cross-examine witnesses.
In its order, the tribunal said the companies might participate in the merger hearing in respect of the portfolio/conglomerate effects of the proposed merger, but limited to the incentive and ability of the merged entity to engage in exclusionary conduct at the retail level as well as conditions that should be imposed by the tribunal to address the portfolio/conglomerate effects of the proposed merger.
A date for the merger hearing would be determined in due course.
BAT shares closed 0.96 percent lower at R542.58 on the JSE on Wednesday.