The Competition Commission said yesterday it had reached a settlement with Unilever over alleged market division of margarine, with the global consumer goods giant agreeing to, among other things, a R16m administrative penalty and to provide interest-free loans to qualifying black businesses.

Fin24 reports that in 2017 the commission referred a case against Unilever and Malaysia's Sime Darby Hudson Knight for prosecution over possible division of markets between 2004 and 2013.

The commission’s investigation found that the two companies agreed not to compete with each other in respect of certain pack sizes of margarine and edible oils. 

The commission said Unilever agreed to the administrative penalty without an admission of liability.

The settlement is subject to approval from the Competition Tribunal.

In addition, Unilever has agreed to a range of initiatives, including that it will increase the annual value of its procurement of products and services from local entities by a minimum of R340m over a period of four years.

Unilever will also establish an enterprise and supplier development fund to the value of R40m, which will provide interest-free business loans to qualifying black-owned entities in the manufacturing, logistics, and wholesale industries in SA that meet Unilever’s credit and selection criteria, the commission said in a statement. 

This includes black-owned manufacturing companies requiring startup funds to enter the logistics, wholesale, and distribution industries.

The consumer goods company has further agreed to donate hygiene, disinfectant, and oral care products to the value of R3m to no fewer than 18 780 public schools over a period of five years.

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