SOUTH AFRICA – Shoprite, a leading food retailer in South Africa, has said that it will appeal against the US$ 1.44 million (R20m) fine handed to its ticket-selling subsidiary, Computicket, by the Competition Tribunal, reports Reuters.

The Competition Tribunal, Competition Commission had earlier on said that it had referred a case against ticket distributors Computicket Ltd and Shoprite Checkers Ltd to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution for alleged anticompetitive conduct.

The tribunal therefore ruled that Computicket pay a R20m administrative penalty for abuse of dominance between 2005 and 2011.

The Tribunal said the decision followed protracted litigation and an earlier investigation by the Competition Commission into the Computicket’s use of long-term agreements to exclude new entrants from the outsourced ticket distribution market.

“There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the exclusive agreements had resulted in anti-competitive effects,” the tribunal’s judgement said.

“Computicket will appeal the Competition Tribunal’s finding,” Shoprite said in response.

The commission said it had consolidated the complaints from 1999 to 2012 into a single case and referred the matter to the tribunal in April 2010 on the basis that “the exclusive agreements between Computicket and inventory providers contravene sections of the Competition Act No 89 of 1998, as amended”.

The hearing in this matter started more than seven years later, in October 2017.

The long delay is attributed to a lengthy and litigious history between the parties over discovery of documents, followed by an unsuccessful administrative law challenge to the Commissioner’s decision to refer the complaint,” explained the Tribunal. 

In December 2018, Shoprite was named as a respondent to another case brought to the tribunal by South Africa’s Competition Commission, which recommended fining both Computicket and Shoprite’s retail division as much as 10 % of their annual turnover.

Shoprite doesn’t disclose the turnover of its retail unit, but the division makes up the bulk of the group’s revenue, which stood at R145.3 billion in 2018.

It is up to the tribunal to decide whether the commission’s charges and proposed fine stand since, the commission recommended a fine of just less than R22m, whereas Computicket thought it should be closer to R10m.