September 17, 2018 / 3:44 PM / 8 months ago

South Africa's competition watchdog imposes conditions on Sibanye-Lonmin deal

LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - South Africa’s competition watchdog on Monday approved the takeover of platinum producer Lonmin by Sibanye-Stillwater but imposed conditions to limit job losses.

The Competition Commission said the transaction, which is scheduled to close by the end of the year, did not prevent or lessen competition in platinum markets but did raise “significant public interest concerns”.

The commission said Sibanye had to start three short-term mining projects to avoid the loss of over 3,000 jobs, keep Lonmin’s existing contracts with black-owned suppliers and maintain Lonmin’s black-ownership deal with the Bapo ba Mogale community.

Lonmin, which is strapped for cash, unveiled plans to cut 12,600 jobs and a further 890 merger-related layoffs when its transaction with Sibanye was announced in December.

Both companies say the job cuts are inevitable and are necessary to save the rest of the 33,000-strong Lonmin workforce.

Sibanye’s chief executive told Reuters in May that shareholders might not find the Lonmin deal attractive if the Commission imposed tough conditions.

Sibanye and Lonmin were not immediately available for comment.

It is now up to the Competition Tribunal, which makes the final ruling on deals, to decide whether to accept the Commission’s recommendations.

Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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