Germany Court finds claim against cement firms cartel admissible

Germany Court finds claim against cement firms cartel admissible
Published: 22 February 2007

The Duesseldorf regional court in Germany found admissible the EUR114m ($149.8m) compensation claims against six leading cement producers accused of price-fixing, according to an interim judgement on February 21, 2007. 
The affected companies include Dyckerhoff, HeidelbergCement, Holcim, Lafarge, Schwenk Zementwerk, and Cemex, former Readymix. They allegedly have taken part in cartel agreements and offered products at excessive prices for more than ten years. Their customers can claim compensations on inflated prices within the framework of the former antitrust law, the court ruled. 
The claims of 29 mid-sized cement buyers are represented by Cartel Damage Claim SA (CDC), a Belgian firm which supports business customers in the assertion of claims for damages based on violations of national and international antitrust regulations. 
The next hearing on the case will be in the late summer of 2007 at the earliest. The interim judgement will be most probably appealed, Klaus Fett, at Schwenk Zementwerk, said. 
According to CDC, the cement buyers suffered damages in amount of EUR150m ($197 mln), including interest, due to the cartel agreements. After the cartel was shattered in 2003, cement prices sank by nearly one-third, CDC said. 
The attorneys of the sector companies denied the existence of a nationwide cartel, admitting only that there have been regional talks.