In August, Holcim and Cemex announced a range of transactions across Europe that the companies hoped would strengthen their operations in the region. The details of the asset swap can be found here.
The European Commission is investigating the Holcim and Cemex asset swaps in Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium over claims the proposed transactions may reduce competition in the market.
Initially, the Commission accepted a request from Spain to assess the proposed acquisition of Holcim’s Spanish operations by Cemex. The EU Merger Regulation is there to assess mergers that affect trade within the EU’s internal market and threaten competition. In this instance, the Commission considers that Cemex’s acquisition of Holcim assets could pose a threat to competition because it would give Cemex a much stronger hold in Spain. The Commission will now ask Cemex to notify the project. Prior to the specific request, Cemex would not have had to notify the European Commission of the transaction because its acquisition of Holcim’s assets in Spain and the Czech Republic does not meet the necessary turnover thresholds of the EU Merger Regulation. Though the Czech Republic did not join the request submitted by Spain, the Commission will continue to examine the impact of the asset swap there.
In addition, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess Holcim’s planned acquisition of Cemex West, which has operations in Germany and Belgium. Again, the concern is regarding the potential impact on competition in these markets, and a fear that the transaction could enable cement producers in Germany and Belgium to coordinate their market behaviour. The Commission has 90 working days to reach a conclusion and will take into account the specific characteristics of the cement industry as well as past operation of cartels by cement companies in Belgium and Germany. Last month, we reported that the Belgian Competition Commission had fined cement producers for colluding to restrict new entrants to the market.
The Commission has said that the ruling in one case – e.g. Cemex’s acquisitions in Spain and the Czech Republic – will not affect the outcome of the other.
Adapted from press releases by Katherine Guenioui
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/europe-cis/23102013/european_commission_investigates_holcim_cemex_asset_swap_324/