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Tue September 29 2020

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UK cement market shake-up remains on course

17 Dec 14 European Commission Clearance of the merger of global cement giants Holcim and Lafarge, reported yesterday, paves the way for the emergence of a fifth independent cement producer in the UK.

The merged Holcim/Lafarge business will retain one UK cement plant previously owned by Lafarge Tarmac in the UK (a 50:50 joint venture between Lafarge SA and Anglo American plc) as well as Aggregate Industries (Holcim UK’s business).

Back in January 2014, the Competition Commission’s (CC) published its findings following an investigation into the UK aggregates, ready-mix concrete and cement. It concluded with an order that Lafarge must sell one of two cement plants it owns in the UK to an independent cement producer to increase competition.

The CC’s decision was appealed by Lafarge Tarmac to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) but the proceedings were stayed pending developments with the European Commission (EC) investigation of the Holcim/Lafarge merger. The case was originally listed for hearing in September 2014 but has been stayed until April 2015 – and remains stayed presently. The Competition & Markets Authority took over responsibility for the case from the CC in April 2014.

The EC yesterday announced its decision to clear the Holcim/Lafarge merger subject to a commitment from the parties that the UK Lafarge Tarmac business, except the Cauldon cement plant in Staffordshire, will be divested to a company not currently involved in UK cement production.

In light of this, the CMA has provided its consent for Lafarge to transfer the Cauldon cement plant to the merged entity and has published a notice confirming this.

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