South Africa: The South African Competition Commission has reached a settlement agreement with AfriSam, which has admitted that it took part in a cement cartel.
AfriSam has agreed to pay a penalty of USD16m representing 3% of its 2010 cement annual turnover in the Southern African Customs Union (comprising South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia). This settlement is a reflection of AfriSam's material cooperation with the Commission in uncovering and providing further information on its conduct.
"This settlement is a reflection of AfriSam's material co-operation with the commission in uncovering and providing further information on the conduct," the commission commented on 1 November 2011.
This agreement follows the Commission's investigation of price fixing and market allocation against four main domestic producers Pretoria Portland Cement Company Limited (PPC), Lafarge Industries South Africa (Lafarge), AfriSam Consortium Ltd and Natal Portland Cement Cimpor (NPC-Cimpor). Previously, PPC applied for leniency and confirmed the existence of a cartel among the four cement producers. In terms of the settlement, AfriSam admits that it entered into agreements and arrangements with PPC, Lafarge and NPC to divide markets and indirectly fix the price of cement. The case against Lafarge and NPC continues.
"To facilitate this process we conducted a systematic and comprehensive review of some of the company's business practices from a competition law perspective," Stephan Olivier, AfriSam CEO stated. "We are, of course, saddened and embarrassed by what has happened. I say categorically that the AfriSam of today is an honourable and ethical company, fully committed to rigorous compliance with competition law."