UK cement producers rubbish cartel claims

UK cement producers rubbish cartel claims
Published: 20 July 2007

Cement makers have reacted angrily to further claims from independent quarriers and concrete producers that the sector is anti-competitive.  
 
The cement manufacturers said that efforts by cartel busters - acting on behalf of the British Aggregates Association - to encourage the Office of Fair Trading to look into the sector showed the investigation was flagging.  
 
The BAA has written to the OFT calling for an investigation into the cement supply industry after its members expressed concerns over supply limits and pricing.  
 
It called in specialist investigator Cartel Damage Claims to probe the sector last year and repor t back on its f indings.  
 
Seamus Maye, director of CDC, has been co-ordinating the investigation and claimed last week that it had unearthed "significant patterns of behaviour to merit further investigation".  
 
But Mike Gilbert, chief executive of the British Cement Association, dismissed the claims.  
 
He said: "We are not surprised that CDC has yet to reach any firm conclusions as the BCA has absolutely no evidence that the cement market is functioning anything other than properly. It is disappointing that the BAA has opted to continue the programme of innuendo with its agents CDC.  
 
The claims are unfounded, without substance and just plain wrong."  
 
The move comes after independent cement suppliers, concrete manufacturers and precast producers had complained about cement supply shortages and moves from BCA members to ration supplies. 
 
They claimed that producers had unfairly singled out independents instead of enforcing limits equally across the industry.  
 
But Mr Gilbert said: "BCA members are acutely aware of the requirements of their customers and following the shortages earlier in the year are working closely with them to ensure their needs are met. All production facilities are operating properly to maximise supply to the market."  
 
Cemex UK suffered a glitch in production when its South Ferriby production centre near Hull, Humberside, was flooded earlier this month. 
 
A spokeswoman confirmed that a conveyor had been hit by floodwaters but said less than 0.5 per cent of production volume was lost.  
 
Source: Construction News