Displaying items by tag: Brazil
Cement cartels (or at least cases of cartel-like behaviour) have reared their ugly heads this week... again. In two different markets, Australia and Brazil, competition authorities are at various stages of taking major action against large proportions of their respective cement industries. In another, Europe, it is the cement producers that are taking on the authorities.
This week, the Australian Federal Court has found five producers guilty of agreeing anti-competitive contracts with regard to fly-ash supply contracts from power stations in the state of Victoria. Only Cement Australia Holdings was not accused. Penalties are to be determined at a later date – watch this space.
As drastic as the Australian situation may be, it is Brazil's anti-trust authority Cade that looks set to make the biggest 'splash' in a cement industry in 2014. On 13 March 2014 it was reported that a US$1.32bn fine, split over six cement producers, has been put on hold after the producers disputed a ruling that would see them lose an average 24% of their cement assets each. So big is this fine that it actually eclipses the US$1.1bn fine seen in India in 2012. In light of the amount of influence that they look set to lose, it now looks extremely likely that the producers will appeal. This sets the scene for indeterminably long waits for legal proceedings and more evidence to be collected. Whatever happens in Brazil, there will be major implications for its increasingly-concentrated cement market.
Elsewhere, in a strange inversion of the normal situation, in Europe it is the cement producers that are taking action. This week the European Court has rejected an appeal from eight major cement producers including Holcim, HeidelbergCement and Cemex subsidiaries with respect to the European Commission's handling of an anti-cartel investigation that began in 2008. That case saw anti-trust investigations start in 2010. Proceedings continue.
As stated previously in this column, cartel-like behaviour is not necessarily indicative of a formal cartel. There are innumerable factors that make every case different and, in each, proving actual collusion is very hard indeed. In the cement industry however, it appears that 'convictions' in cartel cases are easier to spot than in other sectors.
"The first thing for any new competition regulator is to go out and find the cement cartel. My experience of this subject is, it is always there, somewhere," wrote Richard Whish, a Professor of Law at King's College London in 2001. "The only countries in which I had been unable to find the cement cartel is where there is a national state-owned monopoly for cement."
The authorities will keep looking and producers, guilty or not, will continue to wait for their call.
Brazil: The Brazilian cement industry is on hold over a US$1.32bn fine likely to be confirmed by the Brazilian Competition Authority (Cade) for cartel practices. A legal battle is likely to follow the final ruling of Cade in a process that would include the mandatory sale of 24% of the cement assets of the companies involved.
Votorantim Cimentos received a US$662m fine and will be compelled to divest 35% of its assets that represent 11Mt/yr of cement capacity, equivalent to 15% of the cement demand in Brazil. Holcim is to be fined US$216m and is required to sell 22% of its assets. Itabira will be fined US$175m and will be required to sell 22% of its assets. Cimpor faces a US$126m fine and the sale of 25% of its assets. InterCement is to be fined US$103m and will be required to sell 25% of its assets. Itambé will be fined US$37.5m and will not have to sell any assets, as the company operates just one cement plant.
Brazil: Brazil's antitrust regulator is likely to impose US$1.3bn of fines on six cement producers that were allegedly part of a cartel in the Latin American country.
On 22 January 2014, four of the five members of the board of Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade) voted for the penalties, while the remaining member requested a review of the process. Under the regulator's rules, during the review period Cade members can change their votes. Cade didn't offer a timetable for a final decision.
According to the current proposal, Brazil's Votorantim Cimentos would be fined US$657m and Switzerland's Holcim would receive a penalty of US$214m. Itabira Agro Industrial would be fined US$173m, Cimpor Cimentos would receive a penalty of US$126m and InterCement, a subsidiary of Camargo Correêa group, would be fined US$102m. In addition, Itambe would receive a fine of US$37.1m. Representatives for companies involved in the investigation couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Cade said that the cement cartel, which allegedly existed from 1986 - 2007 according to the regulator's investigation, led to increased prices that were passed on to consumers.
Brazil: A VW Caddy was cemented to the pavement in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, after a car dealer refused to move it.
Local media reports that the pavement has been used to display cars for sale for more than 20 years. While it is apparently not illegal to park cars on the pavement because it is a public space, it was not possible to complete necessary construction work on the pavement due to the parked car.
After the car dealer refused to move the car, the construction workers responded by cementing it in place. Celso Antonio de Faria, the owner of the cement company stated "He said I could not lay a finger on the car."
Brazil: América Latina Logística (ALL) plans to increase the volume of clinker and cement it transports for Votorantim Cimentos in the south of Brazil by over 30% before the end of 2013. The Brazilian logistics firm intends to increase its shipments for Votorantim to 1Mt/yr from 0.75Mt/yr, according to Brazilian news service Agência Estado.
ALL recently invested US$3.4m in trains and improving unloading bays in the southern state of Paraná and has borrowed a total of US$771m from the Brazilian Development Bank so far in 2013. The construction market represents 15% of its client portfolio in the industrial products sector.
Brazil: Germany's Hazemag & EPR GmbH has received an order from the Brennand Cimentos Group in Brazil for the delivery of two crushing plants for its new cement works in the federal state of Paraiba, Brazil. The order comprises one limestone crusher and one clay crusher.
The limestone crushing plant is designed for a throughput rate of 1500t/hr for the production of a final product of 95% <90mm. A second product of 95% <50mm may also be produced at a lower throughput rate. HAZtronic, a hydraulic input apron control, can switch between the two production modes. The clay crushing plant is designed for a throughput of 300t/hr for the production of a finished product of 0 - 90mm.
The plant consists of the following components: Hazemag apron feeder, Hazemag roller screen VARIOwobbler® with adjustable gaps, Hazemag primary impact crusher fitted with the hydraulic impact apron control, Haztronic discharge belt conveyor.
The commissioning of both plants is planned for spring 2014.
Portugal: Cimpor intends to invest around US$1.33bn in Latin America by 2017, according to its CEO Ricardo Lima. The main objective of Cimpor is to reinforce its position in Brazil where it already operates in all regions, except in the northern parts of the country, Lima told the Portuguese news agency Lusa.
The Portugal-based cement producer will spend part of the investment building a new cement plant in northern Brazil, at either Belém or Manaus. Due to positive results in the Argentine market another plant is planned for Argentina's western province of San Juan. In October 2013 Cimpor will inaugurate a plant in Paraguay where it holds a 35% share of the market but where it currently sells its surplus Portuguese cement.
Brazil: Votorantim Cimentos has cancelled a US$4.8bn initial public offering (IPO) due to poor market conditions. According to Dow Jones, the leading Brazilian cement producer had initially delayed its IPO in July 2013 to September 2013.
"The IPO continues to be the company's plan and we will continue to monitor the evolution of the capital market conditions to be able to resume the offer," said chief financial officer Lorival Luz.
Brazil: FLSmidth has received two new orders in Brazil. The first is for a 3300t/day line for Pitimbu Plant, a greenfield project by Companhia De Cimento Da Paraíba in Paraíba state. The Danish cement plant supplier previously built a plant at Sete Lagoas for the client.
The second order is for an OK-33 vertical roller mill. Cimento Itambé has ordered the mill for cement grinding at its Balsa Nova Plant located in Paraná state. This is the 19th OK mill sold in Brazil.
"The awarding of these orders to FLSmidth is a consequence of a high market demand and has been given to FLSmidth in spite of great competitor interest in the same area," said President, Cement Division, Per Mejnert Kristensen.
Brazil: Portuguese cement producer Cimpor, which has been controlled by the Brazilian diversified holding group Camargo Corrêa since June 2012, has started its first exports to northern Brazil.
The first shipment of 28,000t/yr of cement reached the port of Manaus, northwestern Brazil in July 2013, according to local press. Cimpor's main rivals in this region will be Brazilian sector players Votorantim Cimentos and Joao Santos.
Camargo Corrêa's subsidiary InterCement, which owns directly Cimpor, projects to import some 70,000t/yr of Portuguese cement to Brazil in 2013. Cimpor is also targeting exports to Bolivia amid the continuing severe economic downturn in Portugal.