Thieves at the Dinner Table
Chapter 5: Cartels
While competition law enforcement enjoyed strong support from the ANC and its supporters, even prior to its entry into government, it’s fair to say that the penny really dropped on the morning of 28 August 2007, when Nick Dennis, the usually self-assured CEO of the giant food group Tiger Brands, appeared before the Competition Tribunal to represent his company in an application for the approval of a consent order it had entered into with the Competition Commission. On this occasion – which was to be the first of several for the group – Tiger Brands admitted its participation in a bread cartel. Until then, most of the corporate titans who had been obliged to appear before the Tribunal seemed at once bemused and not a little irritated at having to account for their business decisions. Dennis appeared no less bemused than many of his peers, but on this occasion the bemusement was accompanied by palpable nervousness, rather than irritation. Although, as I have already recounted, the competition authorities had, through the merger review process and several restrictive practices cases, begun to acquire a reputation for both toughness and professionalism, it would be fair to say that until the bread cartel their presence had not yet made itself felt much beyond the business community. While I think that business had by then already understood and reluctantly conceded the legitimacy of competition law enforcement and merger regulation, as far as the rest of the society was concerned
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