The European Commission has decided to close an antitrust investigation opened in December 2010 against a number of European cement manufacturers including Cemex, Holcim and HeidelbergCement.

Originally, a number of companies were suspected by the Commission of colluding with rivals to fix prices in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

The Commission said there had been indications suggesting possible import/export restrictions, market sharing, price co-ordination and information exchanges in the markets for cement and related products. It said that inspections had been carried out in November 2008 and September 2009 at the premises of companies in Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain.

The Commission has now said that the evidence obtained in its investigation “was not sufficiently conclusive to confirm these initial concerns”, adding “the Commission will continue to monitor closely developments in the European cement markets.”

Cemex said it had co-operated with the European Commission throughout the process and that it would, in general, “take any necessary steps to continue to operate in accordance with the laws and regulations of the countries in which it does business”.

At the time the official proceedings started, the Commission said that they were launched over suspicions that the companies acted to restrict trade flows in the European Economic Area, including organising import and export restrictions.

The alleged cartel was said to have colluded in market sharing and price fixing in the markets for cement and cement-based materials such as ready-mix concrete, clinker, aggregates, blast-furnace slag, granulated blast-furnace slag, ground granulated blast-furnace slag and fly ash.

With the closure of the antitrust proceedings, no fines or other penalties will result.

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