R196m fine hits Pioneer earnings

A R196million Competition Tribunal penalty put a strain on Pioneer Food's profit in the first half of the financial year.

In the six months ended March this year Pioneer's revenue fell by over R400million, or 5percent, to R7,9billion.

Pioneer, which produces Sasko bread, Weetbix breakfast cereal and Liquifruit juices, said yesterday headline earnings per share fell to 81,7 cents from 166,4 cents the previous year.

André Hanekom, group managing director, said: "We achieved this satisfactory set of results in difficult trading conditions with all operations making a positive contribution."

Following the Tribunal's R196million fine for Pioneer's role in a bread price fixing cartel, the Competition Commission appealed the ruling requesting a fine of R1,6billion, which is 10percent of the group's annual turnover.

Pioneer counter-appealed, arguing that only its "affected businesses" be fined.