Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

In a move reminiscent of Harmony Gold’s controversial bid for control of Goldfields in 2004, Murray & Roberts (M&R) is attempting to use the competition authorities to thwart Aton’s bid for control. On Thursday morning M&R asked the Competition Tribunal to interdict Aton from voting all of its shares at the crucial M&R shareholders meeting scheduled for June 19 to vote on the proposed transaction with Aveng. M&R has argued that Aton should only be entitled to vote the 29.99% of M&R shares it held on March 22, which was when it launched its offer to M&R shareholders. Since that date, Aton has built up a 44% holding in M&R. In an application lodged with the tribunal on Thursday, Suresh Kana, chairman of the M&R independent board, argued that if Aton was allowed to vote its 44% stake it would be able to determine the outcome of the meeting, which essentially would mean it had effective control of M&R. Kana said such control had been acquired in contravention of the Competition Act as A...

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