Watchdog to decide on seed firms merger

Johannesburg - The competition regulator will from Monday start hearing an appeal on the proposed merger of Pioneer Hi-Bred, the agricultural unit of US chemicals group DuPont, and a local seed company after the deal was blocked last year.

The South African Competition Commission in December rejected Pioneer's proposed acquisition of Pannar Seed due to concerns about market concentration.

Pioneer appealed the decision to the Pretoria-based Competition Tribunal.

The hearing, which was slated to start at 08:00 GMT on Monday, is expected to last for three weeks, the tribunal said on its web site. The tribunal will then decide whether to approve or prohibit the merger.

In addition to hearing statements from the companies and the competition commission, the tribunal is also expected to hear submissions from environmental groups Biowatch South Africa and The African Centre for Biosafety.

Pioneer announced in September last year that it was buying Pannar Seed in an effort to expand its reach into corn production through Africa. The companies did not disclose financial terms.

Pannar Seed is the largest seed company in Africa.

 
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