A brief update on Competition Law Developments – April 2015
Filing fees to be reduced
The COMESA Competition Commission (the “CCC”) commenced operations in early 2013 and the number of merger notifications filed with the CCC has risen from 13 in 2013 to 44 in 2014, with the CCC having collected approx. US$10.6 million from merger filings during its 2 years of operating. Half of this is currently being distributed to the 19 Member States, in terms of the revenue sharing mechanism which the COMESA competition regime provides for.
Some of the main criticisms of the COMESA competition regime are that currently the thresholds for merger notification are set at zero and filing fees of up to US$500,000 are payable. In terms of a welcome development, the cap on filing fees is expected to be reduced to US$200,000 during April 2015, following a decision of the Council of Ministers and the publication of a Gazette Notice to this effect.
Dawn raids Conducted
On 20 March 2015, the South African Competition Commission (the “SACC”) conducted a dawn raid on 6 companies who supply fire control and protective systems in Gauteng, including Belfa Fire (Pty) Ltd and Cross Fire Management (Pty) Ltd. According to an SACC spokesperson, the SACC has reasonable grounds to believe that the companies have been involved in collusive tendering. This is the first dawn raid conducted this year. In 2014, the SACC conducted only 3 dawn raids.
Guidelines on public interest considerations
The SACC also made available for comment draft guidelines on the Assessment of Public Interest Provisions in merger control. The guidelines come after recent Competition Tribunal and Competition Appeal Court decisions have debated how public interest issues should be assessed during merger investigations. Comments submitted to the SACC are currently under consideration.
Tamara Dini, Partner Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group