South Africa: The Competition Commission of South Africa has referred Natal Portland Cement (NPC) to the Competition Tribunal. The referral follows the Commission's investigation, between 2008 and 2012, of collusive conduct in the cement cartel against the four main cement producers, NPC, Pretoria Portland Cement Company Limited (PPC), Lafarge Industries South Africa (Lafarge) and AfriSam Consortium (Pty) Ltd (AfriSam).
PPC was granted conditional leniency in terms of the corporate leniency policy of the Commission. AfriSam settled with the Commission and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of US$11.2m representing 3% of its annual turnover in 2010. Lafarge also settled with the Commission and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of US$13m representing 6% of its annual turnover in 2010.
The investigation found that the four cement producers agreed to collude and to divide the cement market by allocating market shares and indirectly fixing the price of cement during a legal cartel in South Africa that ended in 1996. The Competition Commission allege that they subsequently reinforced these collusive arrangements through a series of other agreements, which NPC's representatives were party to, including an agreement to progressively exchange competitively sensitive sales data through the Concrete and Cement Institute of South Africa.
The Commission is pursuing a maximum penalty of 10% of NPC's annual turnover and a Tribunal order that NPC contravened the Competition Act.