Lafarge admits Southern African cartel

By Chris Sleight09 March 2012

Lafarge Industries South Africa has agreed to pay a ZAR 149 million (US$ 19.8 million) fine, having admitted its part in a cement cartel in five southern African countries. The fine represents 6% of the company's annual revenues in the Southern African Customs Union region of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

The settlement was reached following a three-and-a-half year investigation by South Africa's Competition Commission into price fixing and market division by the regions four main cement producers - Pretoria Portland Cement Company (PPC), Lafarge, Afrisam (an affiliate of Holcim's) and Natal Portland Cement Cimpor (NPC-Cimpor). According to the Competition Commission, the cartel has been in place since 1997.

Following the start of investigations in June 2008 and raids on company premises in June 2009, PPC applied for leniency and confirmed the existence of the cartel. Afrisam has since reached a settlement with the Competition Commission, which included a ZAR 125 million (US$ 16.6 million) fine.

Part of the settlement with Lafarge includes an agreement by the company to refrain from collusive behaviour and to put a compliance programme in place for all of its employees.

The Commission added that it expected to make an announcement on its case against NPC-Cimpor next month.

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