The measures are contained in 2 documents: the draft Cement Market Data Order and the draft final undertakings. The order proposes to restrict the disclosure and publication of production and sales volume data by cement producers in Great Britain (GB). In addition, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) proposes to accept the final undertakings offered by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) concerning the use of an independent third party for the collection and disclosure of production and sales volume data which it receives from GB cement producers.
The draft order and undertakings result from the Competition Commission’s (CC) investigation into the supply or acquisition of aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete in GB. The CC had found that there were both structural and conduct features of the GB cement markets which combined to give rise to an adverse effect on competition through co-ordination by the largest GB cement producers in these markets. The CC imposed remedial action which required Lafarge Tarmac to sell one of its cement plants and Hanson to sell one of its ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) plants to improve competition in the cement and GGBS markets. Both of these sales have been completed.
The CC also said that it would implement 2 further remedy measures aimed at reducing transparency in the GB cement markets, comprising: (a) a prohibition on suppliers of cement and cementitious products from sending their customers generic price announcement letters, which was implemented last month; and (b) restrictions on the disclosure and publication of GB cement production and sales volume data.
The CMA is inviting comments on the proposed final undertakings by 11 March 2016 and on the proposed Cement Market Data Order by 29 March 2016.
The draft order, undertakings and all other information relating to the investigation can be found on the investigation’s case page.
Notes to editors
The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the CC and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA).