Wal-Mart appeal was worth it: Patel
Business Live - Apr 25th 2012, 08:29
The outcome of government's appeal against the R16.5 billion merger of Wal-Mart and Massmart was positive, says Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.
Delivering his budget vote speech in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Patel, however, conceded that the government review appeal late last year was controversial and attracted a lot of criticism.
"But government cannot take the easy road when doing so will damage employment and industrial capacity," he said.
Patel said that government's review application of the merger was prompted by Wal-Mart's refusal to agree to a binding commitment to support and strengthen local suppliers and respect workers rights.
He said government's argument before the Competition Appeals Court, which delivered its findings last month have had a very positive impact.
This included the reinstatement of 503 retrenched workers and the creation of a supplier development fund.
Patel said the court had also stated that a task team, consisting of one representative each from Wal-Mart/Massmart, labour and government would report back to the court at the end of June.
Government's representative would be Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.
"The thoughtful judgment of the Competition Appeal Court expanded the jurisprudence and endorsed our view that, in considering mergers and acquisitions, public interest criteria in the Act are not cosmetic but fundamental," Patel said.
In reply to a parliamentary question earlier this month, Patel said government's legal costs had amounted to R4.1 million for the appeal.
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