Reports reaching our news desk indicates that Salim Aziz Essa‚ an associate of the controversial Gupta family‚ and businessman Hamza Farooqui’s bid to buy 100% of Habib Overseas Bank’s South African assets has passed the first hurdle‚ with the Competition Commission approving the deal without any conditions.

The antitrust regulator said on Sunday it had decided to approve the intermediate merger between Vardospan‚ a joint venture between two entities each controlled by Essa and Farooqui‚ and Habib‚ which handled more than R1.1bn in domestic assets by November.

 “The Commission … found no overlap in the activities of the merging parties‚” it said.

“[Habib] is involved in banking services and Vardospan is newly created for the purposes of the proposed transaction.”

“The proposed transaction is unlikely to substantially prevent or lessen competition in any market. Further‚ there are no public interest concerns arising as a result of the proposed transaction‚” it said.

Source: BusinessLIVE.