European Commission closes antitrust proceedings

European Commission closes antitrust proceedings
Published: 03 August 2015


European Union antitrust regulators on Friday scrapped a cartel investigation launched on 8 December 2010 against a number of cement producers with operations in Europe including Lafarge, Cemex and HeidelbergCement after failing to find evidence of a cartel.

The European Commission (EC) opened the case with dawn raids in November 2008 and September 2009. It concerned anti-competitive practices in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Two years later the EC ordered the companies, which also included Holcim (Switzerland), Cementos Portland Valderrivas (Spain), Schwenk Zement (Germany), and Italian companies Buzzi Unicem and Italmobiliare to provide the relevant information. Seven of the companies subsequently challenged the order at Europe's second-highest court, which however backed the EU order.

The EU competition authority said preliminary indications had suggested the companies, which it did not name on Friday, fixed prices and curbed imports and exports in breach of EU rules.

"The evidence obtained in the Commission's investigation was not sufficiently conclusive to confirm these initial concerns. The Commission will continue to monitor closely developments in the European cement markets," the EU executive said in a statement.