EU exec opens antitrust probe into cement firms

BRUSSELS, Dec 10 (BestGrowthStock) – European Union antitrust
regulators opened an investigation into several cement companies
in 10 EU countries on Friday, on suspicion they may have fixed
prices and blocked imports or exports.

The probe followed raids by the European Commission on
several companies in September last year and in November 2008.

“The Commission intends to investigate in particular
possible import/export restrictions, market sharing and price
coordination in the markets for cement and related products,”
the EU executive said in a statement.

It did not identify the companies, but world No. 3 cement
maker Cemex (CMXCPO.MX: )(CX.N: ) said on Thursday that it was being
investigated by the EU for possible cartel activity. The Mexican
company denies any wrongdoing. [ID:nLDE6B903M]
The EU regulator said its probe included companies in
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain and related to
cement, cement-based products and other materials.

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of global
turnover for breaching EU antitrust rules.

It slapped a total fine of 478 million euros on France’s
Lafarge (LAFP.PA: ), Britain’s BPB, Germany’s Knauf and Belgium’s
Gyproc in 2002 for operating a cartel in the market for
plasterboard for builders. [ID:nLDE65G0NN]
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Rex Merrifield)

EU exec opens antitrust probe into cement firms