LONDON May 21 Britain's competition regulator
may force major cement producers to sell plants as part of
efforts to break open the country's cement market, after finding
a limited number of players was likely to be causing higher
The Competition Commission (CC) said on Tuesday the cement
market was highly concentrated with only four producers -
Lafarge Tarmac , Cemex,
HeidelbergCement's Hanson and Hope Construction
Materials - a situation that had weakened competition and cost
British consumers at least 180 million pounds ($274 million)
over the 2007-2011 period.
It said, however, that its findings did not mean the
companies were explicitly colluding or operating a cartel.
"The established producers know too much about each other's
businesses and have concentrated on retaining their respective
market shares rather than competing to the full. Strikingly,
despite low demand for cement over recent years, prices and
profitability for the GB (British) producers have still
increased," the CC's Deputy Chairman Martin Cave said.
"Our initial assessment is that these problems could have
cost GB consumers around 180 million pounds over the period 2007
to 2011, and we also believe this could be an underestimate," he
The CC said it was considering measures such as requiring
one or more of the top three producers to dispose of some plants
or reduce their cement production capacity, creating a cement
buying group or restructuring the disclosure of cement market
data by the UK government and cement producers.
It will publish its final report by Jan. 17 next year.