Naspers ‘very disappointed’ by prohibition to take over WeBuyCars

Naspers head office, Cape Town.

Naspers head office, Cape Town.

It is expected that the matter will be argued before the Competition Tribunal during the course of the year.

The largest JSE-listed internet and media group, Naspers, said on Friday that it was “very disappointed” by the prohibition of its proposed acquisition of WeBuyCars by South African competition authorities.

South Africa’s Competition Commission on Thursday recommended that the Competition Tribunal block the proposed acquisition of WeBuyCars by MIH eCommerce Holdings, an entity of Naspers.

Investment holding company MIH eCommerce wants to acquire 60 percent of WeBuyCars. It already has investments in OLX and Naspers’ subsidiary, Car Trader, which operates as AutoTrader, but it does not itself supply any products or services in South Africa.

WeBuyCars is a dominant wholesale and online buyer of used cars from the public, while AutoTrader is the largest online classified platform and generates significant customer traffic, making it a key online platform for traditional used car dealers seeking to sell their car stock.

The Commission said its view was that the merged entity would have the ability to leverage its significant AutoTrader position as well as the OLX platform to exclude rivals of WeBuyCars.

Sjoerd Nikkelen, general manager of OLX in Africa, Middle East and Asia, said they were very disappointed by the recommendation and respectfully disagree with the Commission’s findings.

“As a long-term investor in South Africa, we believe that the transaction, which will bring a R1.4 billion investment to the country, will help stimulate the economy and will provide more consumers with innovative and convenient models to buy and sell used cars,” Nikkelen said.

It is expected that the matter will be argued before the Competition Tribunal during the course of 2019.

Overall, the Commission said the proposed transaction was likely to substantially prevent or lessen competition in the relevant markets and result in used car customers paying higher prices in future than they would otherwise pay in a competitive environment.

African News Agency (ANA)

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