Egypt shortlisted 24 firms on Thursday to bid for 14 licences to build new cement factories or expand existing operations as part of efforts to increase domestic supply, a government statement said.
An auction for the licences will be held on Oct. 28, the statement said. Eight of the licences are to build new factories while the remainder are to expand existing cement operations.
The statement said the bidding firms were primarily Egyptian but one official said they also included companies from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Spain and Italy. He did not name the companies involved. Amr Asel, chairman of Egypt’s Industrial Development Authority, said the expansions in the market were aimed at avoiding a supply crisis and that they would increase supply by 19-20 million tonnes annually within five years. The announcement of the short-listed firms came as the ministry of trade and industry said the government had asked the public prosecutor to investigate anti-competitive practices of cement companies.
The move is the first of its kind since an anti-monopoly law, 10 years in the making, passed in January 2005.
The Antitrust and Competition Protection Commission (ACPC), which ran a 14-month investigation into the sector, accused companies of fixing prices and limiting market share to control prices, the ministry said.
Rising local cement prices drove the ministry of industry to introduce an export duty on cement at 65 Egyptian pounds ($11.69) a tonne in February. It raised the duty to 85 pounds a tonne in August. ($1 = 5.5605 Egyptian pounds).