The Competition Tribunal has confirmed a R10.1-million price-fixing settlement agreement between Mpumalanga-based maize milling firm Blinkwater Mills and the Competition Commission, to be paid in three instalments within a year.
Blinkwater has agreed to pay the fine, representing 5% of its 2007 turnover, for collusion with other maize milling firms to fix the price, and the implementation dates thereof, of milled white maize, including maize meal, samp, maize rice, maize flour and maize chop, between 1999 and 2007.
“In March 2007, the commission initiated a complaint against Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods, Foodcorp, Pride Milling and Progress Milling. The initiation was later amended to include other players in the milling industry including Blinkwater, Godrich, TWK, Keystone, Westra, Carolina Mills, Brenner, Paramount, NTK, Kalel, Bothaville and Allem Brothers,” the commission said in a statement on Friday.
Settlement agreements have been concluded with Foodcorp, with an administrative penalty of R88.5-million; Pioneer Foods with a R500-million penalty; Carolina Roller Meule, which paid a penalty of R4.4-million; and Keystone Milling with a R6.7-million penalty.
Tiger Brands and Premier Foods had been granted conditional immunity in terms of the commission’s leniency policy.
“The remaining firms who have not yet settled with the commission are Godrich Milling, Progress Mills, Pride Milling, Westra Milling, Brenner Mills, TWK Milling, NTK Milling, Isiswe Mills, Bothaville Milling and Paramount Mills.
“The commission hopes the Blinkwater settlement will encourage the remaining respondents to settle with the commission,” it commented.
The complaint was first initiated when the commission received a corporate leniency application from Premier Foods in 2007, which was corroborated by a further leniency application filed by Tiger Brands in the same year. The commission subsequently conducted its probe into collusive conduct in this sector.