The German Federal Cartel Office called on a number of German cement companies again earlier this week. Search warrants were based on complaints from some cement buyers that recent price increases were co-ordinated. However, companies visited said that officials from the Cartel Office also looked into matters dealing with the previous cartel office investigation in which the industry was fined last year in order to secure additional evidence to deal with the appeal lodged most of the companies fined. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that RMC Group, the one sizeable company that is not appealing against the, relatively modest, fine imposed on it, did not receive a visit from the cartel authorities in Bonn.
One leading Westphalian cement producer takes a relaxed view of the latest raid, suggesting that any additional evidence that could be uncovered by the Cartel Office would support its appeal case that the additional profit achieved as a result of the cartel was nowhere near as high as the €10 per tonne the Cartel Office is claiming. The source said, that while such an additional profit may possibly have been achieved in some parts of Germany, it was certainly not the case in Westphalia, where prices have been well below the German average for decades, reflecting the fragmented state of the cement industry there.