South Africa Competition Authorities Approve Glencore, Xstrata Merger

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VENTURES AFRICA — South Africa’s Competition Tribunal conditionally approved the proposed merger between commodities trader, Glencore and mining giant, Xstrata, competition authorities said on Tuesday.

This leaves just one more regulatory hurdle for the two companies which is the need to still secure regulatory approval from China.

They will also have to abide by conditions set out by the South African regulator limiting the timing and scope of any layoffs stemming from the merger.

The transaction had already been approved in several other jurisdictions, with only South Africa and China remaining.

The $33 billion deal will see Xstrata becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore after the commodity trader increased its interest in Xstrata from just more than 33 percent to 100 percent.

The two companies want to combine to form the world’s fourth-largest diversified miner with a market capitalization of about $80 billion.

There is no date set for when the Chinese decision will come through. Last week, Xstrata and Glencore agreed to extend the legal deadline for their merger by six weeks to March 15, in order to provide more time to secure the final approvals.

The merger already has the backing of regulators in the European Union and shareholders.

The Competition Tribunal in South Africa was originally considering complaints from two of the country’s biggest metal and mining unions and the state-owned electricity producer, Eskom, about layoffs and possible coal price increases stemming from the deal.

These parties reached a confidential agreement with Glencore and Xstrata last week that resolved those concerns.

Based on those initial complaints, the regulator set conditions for the merger. The combined companies will be limited to a maximum of 80 dismissals of skilled employees and 100 dismissals of semiskilled or unskilled employees, which can only take place in the two years after a 90-day review is completed in consultation with the unions.

A training fund, administered by a training committee, has to be set up by the merged entity. The fund will allocate R10.000 ($1,130) to each affected worker for further training and development.

The tribunal also ordered that two representatives of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which reached an agreement with the merging parties on possible retrenchments, be appointed to the training committee.