Competition authorities worldwide are expecting to come under political pressure in the wake of Covid-19 to relax merger control standards to save distressed firms. In SA, too, there will likely be intense pressure on the Competition Commission to save jobs.However, SA firms shouldn’t expect the commission to take its foot off the pedal — either with respect to merger standards or its drive to improve the participation of small and black-owned firms in the economy."Most competition authorities are saying that this isn’t a time to relax standards and though we might be under pressure to make quicker decisions, pandemics are temporary; mergers are forever," says the commission’s chief economist, James Hodge.In SA, as elsewhere, it is small firms in the embattled tourism, hospitality and airline industries that are most vulnerable to takeovers. The commission is braced for a deluge of merger applications and, while some may not raise any competition issues, Hodge warns that "anticompet...

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