Tobacco players allowed to weigh in on BAT-Twisp merger approval - regulator

Two large players in the tobacco industry will be able to intervene in a proposed merger between British American Tobacco (BAT) and e-cigarette maker or vaping brand Twisp, the Competition Tribunal has said.

"Gold Leaf Tobacco and Philip Morris South Africa have been recognised as participants in the ongoing large merger proceedings involving British American Tobacco and Twisp," the Tribunal said in a statement issued on Wednesday. This means the companies are allowed to participate in the Tribunal's hearing of the merger.

They have a right to access case documents, file witness statements, give evidence at the hearing and cross-examine witnesses, among other things.

Initially the Competition Commission recommended that the Tribunal prohibits the merger between BAT and Twisp, but later withdrew the recommendation after reaching an agreement with the parties on the conditions of the merger.

Subsequently, Philip Morris South Africa and Gold Leaf Tobacco applied to the Tribunal for leave to intervene in the merger proceedings.

"They argued that they would provide information that would be of use to the Tribunal in coming to its decision regarding the merger," the Tribunal said.

Philip Morris and Gold Leaf are limited to commenting on the impact of the merger at a retail level, any increase in the barriers to entry in the e-cigarette market and they can provide input on the conditions the Tribunal sets on the merging parties.

"A date for the merger hearing will be determined in due course," the Tribunal added. 

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