Johannesburg - The Competition Commission has fined the
Oceana Group [JSE:OCE] R35.7m in the latest of a series of price fixing findings,
the commission said on Wednesday.
"Oceana has agreed to pay a penalty of R35 750 50 which
represents 5% of its turnover derived from its pelagic fish (pilchard, anchovy
and red eye) operations in South Africa in 2010," the commission said in a
Oceana admitted that Oceana Brands, Foodcorp, Premier
Fishing SA, Gaansbaai Marine, Terressan Pelagic Fishing, Paternoster Visserye,
Pioneer Fishing and Saladanha Foods, as members of the South African Pelagic
Fish Processors' Association (SAPFPA), agreed to fix prices paid to vessel
owners/operators, skippers and crew for catching pelagic fish.
This was done through meetings and correspondence
distributed by SAPFPA to its members and a standard formula applied to the
price of fishmeal to determine the prices to be paid.
The commission said Oceana entered into agreements with its
competitors - Pioneer Fishing, Premier Fishing and Saldanha Bay Canning - in
the processing and canning of fish, and they shared information which gave rise
to indirect fixing of the price of canned fish sold to consumers.
Oceana Brands and Pioneer Fishing also agreed to not compete
with each other for suppliers of fish in Mossel Bay.
In 2006, Oceana entered into an agreement with Pioneer
Fishing to fix the quota rental fees payable to three companies in Port
Elizabeth for the use of their pilchard quota for the 2006 fishing season.
Oceana entered into agreements to allocate fishmeal customers
and to fix the prices of fishmeal with its competitor, the SA Fishmeal
Brimstone Investments Corporation [JSE:BRT] and Tiger
Brands [JSE:TBS], both substantial shareholders in the Oceana Group, were
signatories to a shareholders' agreement with Sea Harvest which contained a
non-compete clause, the commission said.
"The commission concluded that the shareholders'
agreement prevented Sea Harvest and Oceana from competing in the hake and
pelagic fish markets, respectively, between 2000 and 2008," it said.
The settlement follows a complaint initiated by the
commission in July 2008.
Pioneer Fishing applied for and was granted conditional
The agreement has been filed with the Competition Tribunal
and will be set down for confirmation of the order there.
So far, the commission has fined Pioneer Foods Group [JSE:PFG] R195m
for being part of a bread cartel, wire mesh companies R27m, and South African
Airways R18.7m and Singapore Airlines R25.1m for price fixing on flights
between South Africa and Hong Kong.
In terms of the Competition Act, the Competition Commission
has the power to investigate restrictive business practices and abuse of