Walmart challenges Namibia’s competition watchdog

2011-03-28 11:19

Windhoek – Walmart Stores is taking Namibia’s competition watchdog to court for attaching conditions to its bid for control of South African retailer Massmart’s operations in that country, the watchdog said.

The world’s biggest retailer is in the final stages of taking a 51% stake in Massmart, which operates in 14 African countries, including Namibia.

“Walmart launched an urgent High Court Application challenging the merger determination issued by the Commission,” the Namibian Competition Commission said in a statement dated March 25.

The commission declined to elaborate on the conditions attached to the deal, and media reports in the southwest African country contained no details.

Walmart is also considering legal options to speed up a probe its $2.3 billion (R16 billion) bid for Massmart in South Africa after competition authorities there delayed a hearing by almost two months last week.

South Africa’s Competition Tribunal postponed the hearings to May 9-16 after the government asked for more time to submit additional information.

The tribunal is the last obstacle to Walmart taking a 51% stake in Massmart after shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favour of the deal in January.

The deal has pitted Walmart, which has long tussled with organised labour in the United States, against South Africa’s powerful trade unions, some of which have threatened to strike against the US group.

Walmart, which agreed to pay R148 per share for the stake, said Massmart remained a compelling investment that would give it a substantial presence in South Africa and pave the way for further expansion across the continent.

The deal, if it goes ahead, would be Walmart’s biggest acquisition since it bought British supermarket chain Asda in 1999.

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