On July 25 2011 the Competition Tribunal set aside the Competition Commission's decision to approve unconditionally the small merger between Paarl Media Limited and [email protected], a division of Primedia (Pty) Ltd. Paarl Media is a commercial printer and distributor of magazines, newspapers and leaflets, while [email protected] operates as a 'knock and drop' distributor of leaflet advertising. The commission has been ordered to reassess the merger.

Following the commission's unconditional approval of Paarl Media's acquisition of [email protected] in February 2011, Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers Limited lodged a review application with the tribunal, alleging that the commission's decision was tainted with errors and irregularities. In particular, they alleged that the commission did not properly consider the objections of competitors of the merging parties.

In its decision, the tribunal found that the commission had not properly applied its mind to the facts before it when approving the merger. The tribunal has accordingly sent the merger back to the commission to be reassessed, on condition that a new case team conducts the reassessment.

Caxton also sought an interim interdict against the further implementation of the merger. However, the tribunal dismissed this application on the basis that the parties to a small merger are required to desist from implementing it only once the commission requires them to notify the merger. In this instance the parties had voluntarily notified the commission of the merger and thus were lawfully entitled to implement the merger.

For further information on this topic please contact Robert Wilson at Webber Wentzel by telephone (+27 11 530 5000), fax (+27 11 530 5111) or email ([email protected]).