Johannesburg - Power utility Eskom said on Friday it has
withdrawn its objections to the takeover of miner Xstrata by commodities trader
Glencore, removing a potential hurdle to the $33bn deal.
Eskom said it had agreed with Glencore on a framework for
their discussions on coal supply and address the utility's concerns about
getting sufficient product at the right price.
Eskom initially asked the Competition Commission to impose
conditions on the Glencore to ensure its coal supplies were not at risk.
"In consequence of the agreement reached between the
parties, Eskom has agreed to withdraw its intervention in the merger
proceedings," the utility said in a statement.
Eskom relies on coal-fired plants to generate 85% of the
electricity that powers the country and has been keen to ensure the merger does
not impede its ability to obtain timely, sufficient and competitively priced
Xstrata is one of South Africa's biggest coal producers and
a key supplier of the fuel to Eskom. The merged entity will be supplying 15% of
Eskom's coal and will also be among the largest traders in the coal market, the
utility has said.
Eskom hopes to ensure that the merged entity does not
dominate the market by setting prices that are unaffordable to the utility or
opt for exports hoping for higher returns.
Insufficient and poor qualities of coal have been a concern
to Eskom in the past and affected its ability to meet fast rising demand for
Glencore's long-awaited $33bn takeover of Xstrata only has
two hurdles left to clear: final approval from competition authorities in South
Africa and China. The hearings in South Africa will last until January 28.
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