This post was originally published as a bulletin on Fasken.com under the title “Unpacking the Competition Amendment Bill: Market Inquiries“.
The Competition Amendment Bill seeks to address two key structural challenges in the South African economy: concentration, and the racially-skewed spread of ownership of firms in the economy.
At the 11th Annual Competition Law, Economics and Policy Conference in September 2017, the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, made the following comment when explaining how economic concentration might be tackled:
“It seems to me to be better that it be done through the trusted and predictable processes of competition regulation and its sound institutions than that it be left to laws that simply mandate the breakup of companies irrespective of the economic logic…”.
Market inquiries are seen as one of the five priorities in addressing this objective. The Background Note published with the Amendment Bill states –
The package of amendments… envisage that market inquiries will become the chief mechanism for analysing and tackling the structural problems in a market, thereby advancing the purposes of the Act. The proposed amendments to the chapter relating to market inquiries will enhance the market inquiry process and will ensure that its outcomes include measures to address concentration and the transformation of ownership.