The sale of Altech Autopage’s subscriber base has been referred back to the Competition Commission, putting into question a planned shutdown date.
In September, Johannesburg listed Altron announced that the Altech Autopage subscriber base was planned to be sold to MTN, Cell C and Vodacom for R1,5bn. Altech Autopage is a phone service provider that sells the likes of MTN, Cell C and Vodacom contracts.
The Competition Commission recommended the mergers be approved without conditions, said the Competition Tribunal in a statement on Wednesday.
Subsequently, the Competition Tribunal had hearings on the Autopage subscriber sale this week.
But the Competition Tribunal has now referred the deal back to the Competition Commission because of concerns raised by a company called Saicom Holdings. Saicom Holdings is said to have agreements with Altech Autopage.
“It became clear during the hearing that the Competition Commission had not spoken to certain clusters of customers that may be affected by the proposed deal,” said the Competition Tribunal in a statement on Wednesday.
The tribunal further said that the commission is now tasked with submitting a supplementary report to the tribunal on 29 January 2016. The tribunal hearing with all the parties is then planned for 9 February 2016.
“The Competition Commission was specifically asked to determine whether the issues to be investigated will have any bearings on Cell C. Based on their findings, a separate hearing could be set aside Cell C prior to 9 February 2016,” said the tribunal.
“The commission will investigate whether there was prior implementation of the transaction, as alleged by Saicom,” the tribunal added.
Meanwhile, it’s uncertain whether this move by the Competition Tribunal could delay Altech Autopage’s planned shutdown for early 2016.
Company officials on Thursday had not yet responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.
However, in an interview in November, Altech Autopage’s MD, Boyd Chislett, said that the company was eyeing a 29 February 2016 shutdown, depending on feedback from regulators. — Fin24