Proposed Naspers WeBuyCars deal faces new headaches

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Weelee – an online intermediary which facilitates the sale of used vehicles by private individuals to second-hand vehicle dealers – is approaching the Competition Tribunal today in a bid to intervene in the proposed acquisition of online car retailer WeBuyCars by Naspers-controlled MIH Ecommerce.

MIH Ecommerce owns the AutoTrader platform and online marketplace, OLX.

The Competition Commission – which assesses large mergers before referring them to the tribunal for a final decision – recommended in May that the proposed transaction should be prohibited as it is likely to substantially prevent or lessen competition.

It said the merger could stop other businesses with similar activities from entering the market(s) and the merged entity would dominate any competitors.

MIH eCommerce and WeBuyCars, however, oppose the commission’s prohibition recommendation and the tribunal is set to hear evidence and argument in the matter from 14 October.

Although a Weelee representative will be called by the commission as a witness to support its case of prohibition, the company has decided to bring an application through which it seeks the right to intervene in the merger proceedings.

Weelee wants the right to: access the merger record and all other documents filed to date; adduce its own evidence; cross-examine any of the merging parties’ witnesses; and request the tribunal to call/order any person to appear at the merger hearing and/or produce relevant documents.

Weelee submits it is a competitor to WeBuyCars and while it has been called as a witness for the commission, this status does not afford it sufficient protections over its own interests.

The company believes its presence as an “intervener” will be beneficial to and assist the tribunal.

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