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HCI Gets Antitrust Backing to Buy More of KWV Should It Aim to Boost Stake

Hosken Consolidated Investments Ltd. (HCI) said it sought approval from South Africa’s antitrust authorities to buy the rest of KWV Holdings Ltd. to avoid stumbling blocks should it decide to make a bid.

“We’re not making an offer in the short term,” Hosken Finance Director Kevin Govender in an interview today from Cape Town. “We applied to the Competition Commission to check if there’s anything that may preclude us from buying all of the company should we increase our shareholding above the 34.9 percent we currently own.”

HCI, which has interests spanning television, transport, mining and textiles, is still evaluating the business of South Africa’s second-largest wine and spirits company after acquiring the stake three months ago, he said. It approached the commission to see if there would be regulatory hurdles should it breach the 35 percent shareholding limit that triggers a mandatory buy-out offer in terms of South African company law.

“We’re one regulatory step away should we need to make an offer,” he said.

Hosken bought the KWV stake from Zeder Investments Ltd. in February after food producer Pioneer Foods Group Ltd.’s failed takeover bid for the spirits company. Hosken paid 11.80 rand ($1.71) a share, lower than Pioneer’s 12 rand-a-share offer that was opposed by some of KWV’s other investors.

Zeder Investments is also Pioneer’s largest shareholder through its 41.3 percent holding in Kaap Agri Ltd., which in turn owns 27.60 percent in Pioneer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sikonathi Mantshantsha in Johannesburg at smantshantsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net

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