Bloomberg News

South African Judge Aims to Give Wal-Mart Ruling by Year-End

November 27, 2011

(Updates with details of transaction starting in third paragraph.)

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- South African Competition Appeal Court Judge President Dennis Davis said he aims to announce a decision on Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s purchase of a controlling stake in Massmart Holdings Ltd. by the end of next month.

“I hope to get it out by the end of December,” Davis said in an interview in Cape Town today. “I can give you a guarantee that it will be out by the end of January.”

On May 31, South Africa’s Competition Tribunal authorized Wal-Mart to buy a 51 percent holding in Johannesburg-based Massmart, South Africa’s biggest food and general-goods wholesaler. Approval was subject to the companies promising to refrain from firing workers for two years and set up a fund to assist local suppliers and manufacturers.

The government and a retail workers’ labor union contested the tribunal’s ruling, saying the regulator’s hearings were procedurally flawed and its ruling failed to take account of the takeover’s potentially negative impact on the economy.

The court may decide to refer the decision back to the tribunal, uphold the approval of the takeover or rule it should have been rejected or subjected to different conditions, Davis said during the Oct. 20-21 court hearing.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, paid 16.5 billion rand ($1.93 billion) in June for the stake in Massmart. On June 26, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said it would create 15,000 jobs in South Africa within five years and spend about 60 billion rand more on food or fast-moving consumer goods in the period, most of which would go to local suppliers.

The case is South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union v Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Massmart Holdings Ltd., 111/CAC/Jul11.

--With assistance from Robert Brand in Cape Town. Editors: Paul Jarvis, Robert Valpuesta.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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