The South African Competition Tribunal has given a conditional approval to Sibanye-Stillwater’s £285m ($364.47m) proposed acquisition of UK-based platinum group metals (PGMs) producer Lonmin.
The deal has been facing stiff opposition from trade unions over planned layoffs at Lonmin.
Last week, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) urged the Competition Tribunal not to approve the merger if Sibanye-Stillwater proceeds with plans to cut more than 10,000 jobs.
The approval imposes a six-month moratorium on any job cuts as a condition for the merger. The condition does not include voluntary separation agreements.
The company remains free to initiating proceedings in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act as long as the proceedings are not finalised within the six-month period. Section 189 is related to retrenchment of employees for operational requirements.
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: “I am extremely pleased that the Competition Tribunal has approved the Transaction, on terms which we believe are fair, reasonable and in the best interest of all stakeholders.
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“We are confident that the integration of Lonmin’s PGM assets and Sibanye-Stillwater’s adjacent PGM operations, will ensure a more sustainable and positive future for these assets and bring greater stability to the region.”
The approval of the Competition Tribunal comes after the Competition Commission backed the deal in September this year with some conditions.
The Commission asked Sibanye-Stillwater to undertake three short-term mining projects if platinum prices improve to save more than 3,000 jobs.
Through the acquisition, Sibanye-Stillwater hopes to create the world’s second-largest platinum producer.
The completion of the transaction is now subject to shareholder and UK court approvals.
Meanwhile, AMCU launched a strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations over wage demands.
As a result, gold mining operations of Sibanye Gold in South Africa have been closed.