Competition assessment of telecoms markets including USSD in Uganda, ongoing

Simon Roberts, Ryan Hawthorne and Sha’ista Goga are carrying out an assessment of competition in two wholesale telecoms markets for the Uganda Communications Commission. This will include analysing the regulatory impact of existing regulations and proposing regulatory interventions to address any competition issues identified.

Economic analysis for an insurance merger for the Competition Commission of South Africa, 2016 - 2017

The Competition Commission briefed Acacia Economics to provide expert economic reports and testimony in relation to the Hollard, Regent and related mergers. Initially, the transaction was structured such that Hollard would acquire the underwriting business of Regent (owned by Imperial) which encompassed a number of products, including motor value-added products (VAPs) such as credit life and shortfall cover, warranties and scratch and dent cover. In addition, Motovantage, a jointly owned subsidiary of Hollard and FirstRand/Wesbank, would acquire the VAPs marketing, administration and retail businesses of Imperial. The Competition Commission prohibited the transaction based on its concerns around the parties' overlapping activities in the underwriting of VAPs as well as in downstream VAPS markets. The Commission also had concerns around the distribution arrangements through Imperial dealerships and the ability of Wesbank to influence Finance and Insurance Personnel ("F&Is") to direct customers to finance vehicles and VAPs through Wesbank at Imperial dealerships. Acacia Economics prepared an expert economic report for the Competition Commission which found that the merger could lead to a significant lessening of competition in the market for financial and mechanical VAPs. The merging parties put forward a remedy to the concerns raised which excluded MotoVantage and Wesbank from the transaction and instead meant that Imperial retained its VAPs businesses. The commitments made were sufficient to satisfy the Commission and Tribunal that the transaction would not substantially lessen competition and the revised transaction was subsequently approved by the Tribunal with conditions.

Competition assessment of public procurement in Zambia for the World Bank and Competition and Consumer Protection Commission of Zambia, 2017

The World Bank appointed Acacia Economics to assist the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Zambia in relation to assessing the competitiveness of public procurement processes and screening for anti-competitive conduct in public procurement. This included an analysis of the alignment of public procurement law and processes with competition legislation and principles, as well as examination of the types of data and analysis which can be used to screen for collusion in public procurement. We also conducted a case study where data was collected and a screening exercise conducted for one sector.

Economic advice and analysis of proposed policy interventions for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, 2017

Bowmans Attorneys briefed Acacia Economics to provide a series of expert economic reports on competition and economic regulation aspects of proposed government policy interventions for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). In addition to an overview of the likely impact of the proposed interventions on the sector, Simon Roberts, Ryan Hawthorne, Sha'ista Goga, Genna Robb, Pamela Mondliwa and Anthea Paelo provided detailed economic reports on a range of topics in relation to ICT policy.

Posted on December 13, 2017 .

Economic research and analysis for the Competition Commission of South Africa's Healthcare Market Inquiry, 2014 - 2017

Genna Robb, Sha'ista Goga and Ryan Hawthorne were part of a panel of consultants working on the South African Competition Commission’s private healthcare market inquiry. This included analysing the impact of the regulatory framework and previous competition interventions on the dynamics of competition in the sector. 

Analysis of competition in traditional and digital banking services for the Kenya Banking Inquiry Phase II, 2015 - 2017

Sha’ista Goga and Ryan Hawthorne carried out phase II of a market inquiry into the banking sector for the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK). This was focused on identifying and understanding factors that impact on competition dynamics in both traditional and digital banking services from a demand side or customer perspective. A key focus was understanding the ability of customers to impose competitive discipline on banks.  This involved  assessing facets such as price transparency and switching. The study assessed the extent to which banks provided adequate disclosure, the extent to which customers were able to meaningfully engage with information provided, and the ease,  ability and incentive for consumers to switch. Furthermore, the study looked at whether a lack of consumer engagement and barriers to switching undermined incentives for banks to compete in parameters such as price, quality of service and innovation. The study used  a combination of qualitative, quantitative and experimental methods. Behavioural economics experiments were  engaged in to understand barriers to switching and to determine whether prompts could be use to enhance competitive behaviour. 

Expert economic advice to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa in relation to a review of its spectrum auction decision, 2016

PPM Attorneys (attorneys for ICASA) briefed Acacia Economics to provide expert economic reports to the High Court in relation to the review of ICASA’s spectrum auction decision brought by the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal services. Acacia Economics provided economic analysis in relation to the concerns raised by the DTPS, including a review of international best-practice in spectrum auction design and an assessment of the possible competition implications of ICASA's proposed approach. 

Posted on December 13, 2017 .

Economic experts for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa in relation to the Vodacom/Neotel merger, 2015

Acacia Economics provided expert advice to ICASA in relation to the proposed merger between Vodacom and Neotel. The Competition Commisison had raised concerns that the merger would lead to a concentration of spectrum in the hands of Vodacom, which could further entrench its dominant position. Competing operators MTN, Cell C and Telkom intervened in the matter, as well as ICASA and the Ministers for Telecommunications and Postal Services and Economic Development. All were concerned that Vodacom's market power and first-mover advantage would be strengthened by the acquisition of Neotel's spectrum, a vital input for the development of a high speed LTE network. Other operators were constrained in the ability to access more spectrum, as additional spectrum was still to be assigned to mobile operators  by ICASA and it was unclear when this would take place. Acacia Economics prepared an expert report which analysed the likely competition implications of the transaction. The merger was abandoned by the parties before a Tribunal hearing on the matter was held.

Posted on December 13, 2017 .

Expert economic advice on the Coca Cola / SAB (bottlers) merger for the Economic Development Department, 2015 - 2016

Werksmans Attorneys (attorneys for the Economic Development Department) appointed Acacia Economics to provide expert advice to the Economic Development Department in relation to the competition and public interest effects the merger between Coca-Cola and SAB (bottlers) in South Africa.

Posted on December 13, 2017 .