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ZAMBIA COMPETITION COMMISSION. Allegations of Excessive Pricing of Chlorine Gas on the Zambian market against Chemical & Engineering Supplies Limited A Case Study Thula Kaira Director – Mergers & Acquisitions 15-17 February 2007

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Zambia competition commission

ZAMBIA COMPETITION COMMISSION

Allegations of Excessive Pricing of Chlorine Gas on the Zambian market against Chemical & Engineering Supplies Limited

A Case Study

Thula Kaira

Director – Mergers & Acquisitions

15-17 February 2007

CUTS/IGD Competition Policy & Law Implementation Seminar, Pretoria, South Africa


Introduction and relevant background

Introduction and relevant background

In May 2006, the National Water Supply

and Sanitation Council (Nwasco), who are

the water utility regulators, wrote to the

Commission disclosing that they were in

receipt of complaints from Commercial Water

Utilities (CWUs) regarding the uncompetitive

behaviour and exploitation in the pricing of

supply of Chlorine gas in Zambia. Chlorine is

used in water purification process by CWUs.


Allegations against ncp and ces

Allegations against NCP and CES

It was alleged that:

Chemical and Engineering Supplies Limited (CES) was an exclusive agent of National Chemical Products (NCP Chloorkop) South Africa.

NCP had refused to deal directly with CWUs in Zambia

CES was allegedly excessively pricing Chlorine gas on the Zambian market sold in 0.9-ton gas was allegedly sold at K6 million when the landed cost was K3 million.


Legal provisions

Legal Provisions

The alleged conduct of excessive pricing

would appear to be captured under sections

6(1) and 7(1) of the Competition and Fair

Trading Act.

Section 6(1) of the Act mandates the Commission

… to monitor, control and prohibit acts or

behaviour which are likely to adversely affect

competition and fair trading in Zambia.


Section 7 1 states that

Section 7(1) states that

“Any category of agreements,

decisions and concerted practices

which have as their object the

prevention, restriction or distortion of

competition to an appreciable extent in

Zambia or in any substantial part of it

are declared anti-competitive trade

practices and are hereby prohibited.”


Assessment tests

Assessment Tests

Whether there was “Excessive Pricing”

Evidence of market dominance against an enterprise deemed to be involved in the alleged conduct;

Evidence of abuse of dominant position through excessive pricing; and

Effects or likely effects of conduct – i.e. Substantial Lessening of Competition Test.


Excessive pricing

Excessive Pricing

In theUnited Brands Company (UBC) & United Brands Continental BV v. Commission of the European Communities,“excessive price” was held to be:

a price that has no reasonable relation to the economic value of a product or service. Generally, prices in a particular market can be regarded as excessive if they allow the dominant firm to sustain profits that are appreciably higher than it could expect to earn in a competitive market. A determination of excessively high selling prices, for example, would take into consideration both operating and capital expenditure, including an allowance for a reasonable rate of return to investors, shareholders and lenders of the business.


The market definition

The Market Definition

The Product Market - The relevant market was defined as the Chlorine gas on the Zambian market (Both hypothetical and actual “SSNIP” Test assumptions).

Geographical Market -The geographical market covered the entire country, with a concentration in the Copperbelt, Lusaka and Southern Provinces.


Competitors

Competitors

At the time of the investigations, there were two

known suppliers of Chlorine gas on the Zambian

market and these were CES and Jetvic Enterprise

Limited.

The Market Shares were reckoned to be as follows:

CES - 70%

Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company (LWSC) - 25%

Jetvic – 5%


Determination of dominance

Determination of Dominance

Section 2 of the Competition & Fair

Trading Act of Zambia equates a

dominant position to a monopoly

position, both of which are defined as

a firm that has at least 50% market

share.


Competitor pricing

Competitor Pricing

NB: LWSC is a commercial water utility that was the only one that sourced the gas directly from NCP, while the other utilities had to source through the alleged agent - CES


Submission from chemical engineering supplies

Submission from Chemical & Engineering Supplies

CES contended its price was twice that of LWSC as

its price included the following costs:

Cylinder costs;

Import clearing costs;

Import financing costs;

Cylinder delivery costs

Cylinder collection costs;

Customer financing costs; and

Depot overhead costs.


Price analysis for a 2 year period

PRICE ANALYSIS FOR A 2 YEAR PERIOD

The Commission carried out a price trend spanning

2 years in the chlorine gas market that showed:

A parallel pricing system between LWSC and CES

The prices of CES were about 100% higher than those of LWSC

There appeared to be an upward trend in the CES pricing than in the one by LWSC


Persuasive costs and price assumptions

Persuasive Costs and Price Assumptions

In order not to be overwhelmed by extravagant and/or exaggerated

costings from the defendant parties, the Commission used the

following assumptions in its assessment:

Chlorine gas is a hazardous product hence the further the source, the higher cost price in Zambia. Jetvic, as opposed to CES, is assumed to incur higher logistical costs from Pakistan to Zambia.

Import duty paid by both supplies on the same quantity of Chlorine gas (900 kg cylinders) is assumed to be the same.

The price of K3 million for LWSC was indicative of the landed cost of Chlorine gas in Zambia

CES and Jetvic market price is about 100% more than the guiding price from LWSC

The LWSC is lower because it does not trade the product in the market but uses it for its own purposes

Jetvic is for all intents and purposes a price follower serving a niche market


Evidence of market dominance

Evidence of market dominance

In the case United Brands Company & United Brands Continental BV v. Commission of the European Communities, the ECJ defined market dominance as:

“a position of economic strength enjoyed by an undertaking which enables it to prevent effective competition being maintained on the relevant market by giving it the power to behave to an appreciable extent independently of its competitors, customers and ultimately of its consumers.”


Dominance cont d

Dominance Cont’d

Further, in the case, Queensland Wire Industries Proprietary Limited v. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and another (1989), Market power was defined as

“ the ability of a firm to raise prices above the supply cost without rivals taking away customers in due time, supply cost being the minimum cost an efficient firm would incur in producing the product.”

From the submission by commercial water utilities regarding the source of Chlorine gas on the Zambian market, CES was a major supplier of Chlorine gas on the Zambian market, with 70% of the market.


Instances of abuse of dominance

Instances of Abuse of Dominance

By NCP of South Africa

Alleged Refusal to deal directly with other Commercial

Water Utilities (CWUs) in Zambia except for LWSC

Alleged appointment of an exclusive agent in Zambia to

procure and supply chlorine gas

Insistence that Zambian CWUs wishing to buy directly from

NCP would have to invest in their own 900kg gas cylinders

at a price as high as K22 million (i.e US$5,000) each

By CES

Alleged overcharging/excessive pricing

Refusal to rent out gas cylinders to CWUs


Substantial lessening of competition slc

Substantial Lessening of Competition (SLC)

Market Concentration

Effectively, the market is controlled by CES, with at least 70% market share in a market concentration ratio (CR3) of 100%

Only CES and Jetvic supply the market while LWSC buys for its own consumption.

Jetvic is more an opportunistic than established or reliable sustainable supplier, thus leaving the market leadership in both supply and price terms to CES


Slc cont d

SLC Cont’d

Barriers to Entry

The only barrier to entry for new entrants to the market for supply of Chlorine gas is the exclusive arrangement between NCP Chloorkop. Perhaps in the absence of this exclusivity the other barrier is the alleged refusal to deal directly with commercial water utilities by NCP.


Slc cont d1

SLC Cont’d

Import Competition

There is no company that produces Chlorine gas on commercial basis in Zambia. The product is imported from NCP in South

Africa – reckoned to be the only company that produces Chlorine gas on commercial basis.

Other import sources are far flung areas in Germany, Pakistan and India


Slc cont d2

SLC Cont’d

Substitutability

Chlorine that is used for treating water comes into two different forms namely: gaseous and powdered forms. Chlorine gas is the most widely used for water treatment as it is considered to be economical.

Powdered Chlorine or “HTH” as it commonly known is sparingly used in Zambia for water treatment as it is said to be too expensive as compared to Chlorine gas.

Practically, HTH has not been an alternative in Zambia as a SSNIP on the gas is not likely to cause the CWUs to switch to HTH


Slc cont d3

SLC Cont’d

Countervailing Power

In the absence of an alternative supplier, the CWUs did not have the negotiating power to influence the distribution strategies and the pricing of NCP and CES

The lack of the negotiating power adversely affected the competition process


Conclusions

Conclusions

Prima facie, there was indicative evidence of

abuse of dominant position through

excessive pricing of Chlorine gas by CES on

the relevant market.

The absence of an economical substitute to

chlorine gas entails that CES effectively

controls at least 70% of the chlorine gas

The exclusive agency between NCP and

CES had the effect of substantially

lessening competition in the relevant

product market for chlorine gas in Zambia


Subsequent events

Subsequent Events

NCP and CES refuted the allegations that they had any written Exclusive Dealing Agreement but admitted that they had “a Gentleman’s Agreement”

They maintained that the CWUs were free to source directly from NCP

Pricing was said to be beyond the control of CES as the various logistical and tax components affected the end price

NCP submitted that they had not refused to deal directly with CWUs


Commission decision

Commission Decision

The Commission nullified the effecting in Zambia of any formal or informal Exclusive Agreement between NCP and CES as this was the source of market power, dominance and abuse through excessive pricing by CES

The CWUs engaged in direct discussions with NCP to source the chlorine gas directly.

The Commission resolved not to sue the parties since they had complied with the “Cease & Desist” order


THANK YOU

Zambia Competition Commission

4th Floor, Main Post Office

Cairo Road

P O Box 34919

Lusaka

Zambia

Tel: +260-1-222787/775

Fax: +260-1-222789

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.zcc.com.zm


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