Bat­tery pro­duc­ers on price fix­ing rap

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES & NEWS - Roy Cokayne

THE SA BAT­TERY Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (Sabma) has been or­dered by the Com­pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal to dis­close se­lected doc­u­ments to the ap­pli­cants in a com­plaint al­leg­ing price fix­ing and agree­ments to lessen com­pe­ti­tion in the sale and man­u­fac­tur­ing of au­to­mo­tive bat­ter­ies.

This fol­lows an un­suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tion brought to the tri­bunal by Sabma, its chair­per­son Glenn Llewellyn Gelden­huis and sec­re­tary Maria Da Fon­seca for sub­poe­nas against them to be set aside or al­ter­na­tively for the re­quest for cer­tain doc­u­ments in the sub­poena to be set aside on the grounds that they pre­dated the com­mence­ment of the Com­pe­ti­tion Act.

The sub­poe­nas were is­sued by the tri­bunal on be­half of the South African Bat­ter­ies Im­porters As­so­ci­a­tion (Sabia), which with five other ap­pli­cants lodged the ini­tial au­to­mo­tive bat­tery sec­tor com­plaint. They al­leged that mem­bers of Sabma had con­tra­vened the Com­pe­ti­tion Act by di­rectly or in­di­rectly fix­ing a pur­chase or sell­ing price and agree­ments to lessen com­pe­ti­tion by bat­tery pro­duc­ers.

Sabia re­ferred the com­plaint to the tri­bunal af­ter the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion had de­cided not to re­fer the com­plaint to the tri­bunal for pros­e­cu­tion.

It was al­leged that the three bat­tery pro­duc­ers fixed bat­tery prices into the af­ter­mar­ket, in­clud­ing the so-called bat­tery scrap sur­charge.

The scrap sur­charge al­le­ga­tion was that First Na­tional Bat­tery, Wil­lard Bat­ter­ies and Dixon Bat­ter­ies agreed to fix the sur­charge un­der the aus­pices of Sabma.

Two of Sabma’s three mem­bers, First Na­tional Bat­tery, which is part of listed Me­tair In­vest­ments, and Pow­ertech In­dus­tries, which trades as Wil­lard Bat­ter­ies, have set­tled with Sabia since the sub­poe­nas. The tri­bunal has not been pro­vided with de­tails about this set­tle­ment. Don­aventa Hold­ings, trad­ing as Dixon Bat­ter­ies, has not set­tled with Sabia.

The list of doc­u­ments re­quested by Sabia was re­duced from 27 to three. Sabma ar­gued that the re­main­ing doc­u­ments were com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Sabma and the In­ter­na­tional Trade Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mis­sion of South Africa about the ex­port of scrap bat­ter­ies from South Africa and the im­po­si­tion of in­creased tar­iffs on im­ported bat­ter­ies, and were con­fi­den­tial.

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