Sunday, February 28, 2021

Competition Authority denies complicity over Choppies acquisition

The Competition Authority has denied complicity crept in when it took a decision to “cautiously and reluctantly” approve the acquisition of SupaSave and MegaSave stores by the Choppies Enterprises.

Against the background that the Competition Commission has as its Chairperson, Dr. Zein Kebonang, who is a twin brother to the Choppies Executive Director, Sadique Kebonang, fears arose that their relationship may in one way or the other have leaned a heavy hand on the decision of the authority.

“Dr Kebonang is not an employee of the Competition Authority. He is not involved in mergers reviews and he was not in any way involved in the SupaSave/ Mega Save-Choppies merger,” said Gideon Nkala, spokesman for the Competition Authority.

Nkala said when considering mergers the Competition Commission is not involved and would only be involved when there has been an appeal to the High Court or a higher court and such a court refers the matter to the Competition Commission. He said all mergers are dealt with by the Merger Review Committee, which is constituted by employees of the Competition Authority.

“A rigorous assessment is done; this includes an elaborate consultative process. Firstly, we put out a media notice detailing the nature of the merger and the parties concerned. The purpose of this notice is to invite anybody who has any information that can assist the authority to arrive at a determination. Secondly, we consult competitors. Thirdly, we consult customers/consumers and lastly we engage industry oversight authorities such as BOCCIM, ministry, etc. The purpose of all these consultations is to get the views of the different players on board. The assessment on this merger followed this established pattern,” said Nkala.

The spokesman added that the CA has a standing policy that employees who sit in all review committees, including the Merger review Committee, should declare their interest and this is done at all times.

In its conditional approval, the CA said Choppies should take over the two entities as going concerns but should, within a period of 5 years (from 2013), provide the Authority with a reasonable exit plan (including a public notice) to divest from the target SupaSave outlets, which are within the vicinity of existing Choppies outlets in Mogoditshane, Broadhurst Extension 16, Gaborone Bus Rank/Gaborone West and Palapye.

The condition is envisaged to attract other entrants in the named retail spaces within the next 5 years.

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