SOUTH AFRICA – Sovereign Foods has lost the battle against rival poultry producer Country Bird to block the company from voting at a key shareholders meeting next week.

The Competition Tribunal said on Thursday that Sovereign’s application against Country Bird had been dismissed with costs.

The tribunal would give a reason for the dismissal at a later stage.

Last week, Sovereign Foods brought an application to the tribunal to have any attempt by Country Bird to reinstate rights in the listed poultry producer or to acquire additional shares be considered a merger.

Sovereign claimed that Country Bird and connected parties had a stake of just less than 15% in the company, which they were building up ahead of the shareholder meeting on March 29 to block a broad-based economic empowerment deal from being approved.

The deal would secure control of Sovereign in the hands of management and a number of black investors.

At 11.50am, the stock was flat at R6.40 on the JSE, valuing the poultry group at R488m

Country Bird delisted from the JSE last year.

March 24, 2016;