Belgium's competition regulator has fined three cement makers and two related associations 14.7 million euros ($19.4 million) for jointly restricting access to the Belgian market for new entrants.
The Belgian Competition Council said in a statement late on Friday that CBR, part of HeidelbergCement Group, CCB, a unit of Italcementi, and Holcim Belgium colluded with the Belgian cement association FEBELCEM and the national centre for the national centre for technical and scientic research for the cement industry (CRIC/OCCN).
The parties sought between May 2000 and October 2003 to delay the adoption of a licence and of standards allowing ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) to be used as a component for ready-mix concrete, the competition council said.
The companies and FEBELCEM sought in this way to protect their own interests in selling cement for ready-mix concrete, the council found, adding that CRIC/OCCN had helped them towards this end.
Orcem, a unit of Irish GGBFS producer Ecocem, had shown that GGBFS could be used as a partial substitute for cement in ready-mix concrete, but its ability to import it into Belgium had been delayed by anti-competitive actions, the council said. ($1 = 0.7584 euros)