South Africa: Gupta associate gets green light to buy bank

The Competition Commission has given the green light to a bid by Salim Aziz Essa, a business associate of the Gupta family, and businessman Hamza Farooqui to acquire the South African assets of Habib Overseas Bank.

The anti-trust body said on Sunday it had approved without conditions the merger whereby the newly formed Vardospan intended to buy the bank.

Vardospan is a joint venture between two entities established by Essa and Farooqui in 2016, called Cinq Holdings and Pearl Capital Group Holdings Limited, respectively.

“Cinq Holdings and Pearl Capital are also recently established entities which are separately controlled by two individuals,” the commission said in a statement, which also confirmed that Vardospan was established for the purpose of the acquisition of the bank.

HOBL is controlled by Pitcairns Finance, a company that is registered in Luxembourg.

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