The Competition Commission (Commission) has approved two transactions whereby Oceana Group Limited (acting through subsidiary companies) (Oceana) is to acquire interests, shares and assets in the fishing and cold storage industries. The approval of both transactions are subject to conditions related to employment in the fishing transaction and access to cold storage facilities in the cold storage transaction.

Oceana acquired interests, shares and assets in the fishing and cold storage industries from companies within the African Marine Products (Proprietary) Limited (AMP) group, Phambili Fishing (Proprietary) Limited (Phambili) and Bato Star Fishing (Proprietary) Limited (Bato Star).

The fishing industry, and Oceana in particular, has come under close scrutiny by the competition authorities. This follows the recent investigation by the Competition Commission (Commission) of Oceana in relation to the pelagic fishing industry; which has been settled.

The main transaction involves the sale of fishing interests, businesses, shares and assets from different companies within the AMP group, Phambili and Bato Star. The various acquisitions were made in respect of the sole, hake, south coast rock lobster and horse mackerel markets. This transaction also falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and, in addition to competition endorsement, is subject to approvals by the DAFF.

The second transaction, which was a related but separate and divisible transaction, constituted a small merger and involves the acquisition by Oceana's subsidiary, Commercial Cold Storage (Proprietary) Limited (CCS), of the cold store business of V&A Cold Store (Proprietary) Limited (V&A). V&A's cold storage facilities are located at the Cape Town quayside while CCS owns and manages public refrigerated warehouse facilities in the main industrial centres and harbours of South Africa.

The total value of the transactions amounts to ZAR200 million.

The mergers were approved by the Commission subject to conditions, which in the case of the fishing transaction related to employment, and in respect of the cold store transaction concerned access to cold store facilities. The parties have requested that the Competition Tribunal consider the appropriateness of the cold store conditions. The transaction is still subject to the approval of other regulatory authorities, including the DAFF.

Webber Wentzel acted for the merging parties.

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