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ZTE to pay CompCom R5m for anti-trust conduct in SA

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Chinese telecoms equipment provider ZTE has agreed to pay R5 million in a settlement agreement with the Competition Commission (CompCom), after the company was accused of cartel-like conduct.

In terms of the settlement agreement with the anti-trust body, ZTE SA agrees to refrain from engaging in any prohibited practice, or anti-competitive conduct, in contravention of the Competition Act. The firm will also implement a competition law compliance programme.

The settlement agreement between ZTE and CompCom follows years of bickering, emanating from an investigation launched against the Chinese multinational by anti-trust authorities in 2013.

The commission launched an investigation into ZTE Corporation (China), ZTE Hong Kong, ZTE SA and ZTE Mzansi for allegedly allocating customers in the market for the supply of telecoms equipment and network solutions in South Africa.

It had been alleged that in 2011, ZTE SA and ZTE Mzansi agreed to divide markets by allocating customers between themselves.

The commission alleged the parties agreed to divide the market, in that ZTE Mzansi would distribute telecoms equipment and network solutions to public sector customers, while ZTE SA would distribute similar products to private sector customers.

Today, the CompCom announced the settlement, although it says ZTE did not admit liability in respect of the conduct as alleged by the commission.

In a statement, the CompCom says: “The commission, in turn, has agreed to enter into the settlement agreement with ZTE SA without an admission of liability, based on various factors, read with the remedies contained in the consent agreement, including that ZTE SA has not previously been found guilty of contravening the Act.”

The settlement agreement has been confirmed as an order by the Competition Tribunal.

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