Tribunal approves Sibanye-Stillwater, Lonmin merger with conditions

The Competition Tribunal on Wednesday approved the merger between Sibanye Gold - trading as Sibanye-Stillwater - and Lonmin with conditions.

In a statement, the Tribunal said full reasons for its decision would follow in due course. Its statement only related to the conditions in respect of retrenchments and the social labour plans (SLPs).
 
"This merger involves massive public interest issues involving extensive job losses and impact in the platinum mining region of the North West," the Tribunal said.
 
"The issue of which retrenchments related to Lonmin’s operational requirements and which were merger-specific became an intensely disputed issue."
 
Sibanye, as part of its operational plan, envisioned that it would retrench 13 334 jobs after the merger. Of these, only 885 are merger specific since they arise from a duplication in overheads.
 
Lonmin indicated in its plan of October 2017 that it planned to retrench 10 156 employees.

The Tribunal said identifying the exact number of merger-related retrenchments was not possible yet.
 
"The merging parties have been transparent and co-operative with the Commission and the Tribunal in sharing their assessment of the possible number - between 10 156 and 13 444 - of job losses," said the Tribunal.
 
"In addition, Sibanye has been co-operative in providing several undertakings. It has undertaken to do a feasibility study in an agri-industrial programme, an economic assessment of further investments in identified shafts and establishing a consultative forum in respect of the implementation of SLPS."
 
Its undertaking in respect of retrenchments was a moratorium for six months.
 
"In order to protect what would be merger-specific job losses...our view is that Sibanye should be given an opportunity to do an in-depth assessment of the operational requirements of the target firm and to consult with all relevant stakeholders which include trade unions," said the Tribunal.

"Accordingly, it is our view that the public interest will be best served if a moratorium were placed on all retrenchments for a period of six months from the implementation date."

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