Brazil: Brazil's antitrust watchdog Cade has ordered six cement makers named in a price-rigging case to pay a combined US$934m in fines within one month in a landmark decision that also orders asset disposals, according to Reuters. Under the terms of the decision announced on 29 July 2015, the watchdog gave the companies a one-year deadline to reduce their installed capacity in the cement and concrete industries through asset sales. The decision was published in the government's official gazette.
According to Cade, which first issued a ruling in the case in May 2014, Votorantim Cimentos, Intercement Brasil, Itabira Agro Industrial, Cia de Cimentos Itambé, Holcim Ltd and Cimpor Cimentos de Portugal colluded on pricing to force rivals out of the market. The ruling, which followed an eight-year inquiry, followed cost overruns that dogged Brazil's preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as dozens of road, port and infrastructure projects across the country. The companies control about 75% of the domestic market for cement and concrete.
A series of studies by Cade showed evidence that several takeovers and asset swaps among cement companies during the 1990s and the 2000s were made to prevent rivals from entering the market. The largest players in Brazil's cement industry tend to have strong market control in specific regions, increasing the potential for collusion. The number of cement producers in Brazil shrank to about 10 in 2011 from almost 25 in the early 1990s.
Under terms of the ruling, Votorantim must pay US$450m in fines and Cimpor US$89.2m. Cade fined Intercement Brasil US$72.4m, Itabira US$123m and Holcim US$153m. Itambé must pay US$26.4m. Some of the companies are challenging Cade's ruling in the courts. Cade also imposed sanctions on ABCP, Brazil's Portland cement group and SNIC, which represents local cement plants.