PRETORIA Dec 10 A hearing by South Africa's
competition tribunal on commodities trader Glencore's
$33 billion takeover of miner Xstrata has been postponed
until next month, the court said on Monday.
Glencore was expected to defend its case this week after
South African power utility Eskom raised concerns the deal could
affect its coal supplies, but the hearing was postponed until
Jan. 18 after the parties asked for more time to prepare.
"We agreed to postpone the hearing because there would be
insufficient time now to properly examine the matter," said
Rafik Bhana, a lawyer representing Eskom.
State-owned Eskom has said it is not calling for the deal to
be abandoned but is hoping the country's competition authority
will impose conditions on the tie-up to ensure coal supplies to
its power plants are not at risk.
The utility relies on coal-fired power plants to generate 85
percent of the electricity that powers Africa's biggest economy
and is keen to ensure the merger does not impede its ability to
obtain timely, sufficient and competitively priced coal.
Xstrata is one of South Africa's biggest coal producers and
a key supplier of the fuel to Eskom. The utility said the merged
entity would be supplying 15 percent of Eskom's coal and would
be also among the largest traders in the coal market.
Eskom hopes to ensure that the merged entity does not
dominate the market by setting prices that are unaffordable to
the utility or opt for exports hoping for higher returns.
Insufficient and poor qualities of coal have been a concern
to Eskom in the past and affected its ability to meet fast
rising demand for electricity in the major producer of platinum,
gold and other minerals.
Glencore's long-awaited takeover of Xstrata only has two
hurdles left to clear: final approval from competition
authorities in South Africa and China.