It went relatively unnoticed, but the Competition Commission’s decision this week to block the purchase of an SA business by a foreign company will again raise questions about whether SA really wants the foreign investment it claims to want, and whether our competition regulators really want to achieve a more competitive economy.

The commission prohibited the sale of Sasol’s cyanide business to Draslovka, a Czech company that is one of the world’s leading producers of cyanide. Gold miners need cyanide to get the gold out of the ore. The commission prohibited the deal on the basis that it would result in an increase in the price of cyanide post-merger. Its brief media release provided neither explanation nor evidence for this assertion, but it mentioned “concerned customers”, and as a backup it has blocked the deal on public interest grounds because of the harm it will apparently cause the local gold mining industry...

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