WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) announced Nov. 15 that, following a public comment period, it has approved an
application from HeidelbergCement AG and Italcementi SPA to sell the Essroc
cement plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia, eight cement terminals in the Mid-Atlantic, and related assets to Argos USA LLC, a subsidiary of Cementos
Heidelberg and Italcementi are the second and fourth largest
producers of cement in the world and compete in the United States through subsidiaries
Lehigh Hanson and Essroc Cement Corp. These subsidiaries sell Portland cement,
an important ingredient in making concrete.
The divestiture comes after a June complaint and August
final order settling charges that Heidelberg’s merger with
Italcementi, valued at $4.2 billion, would be anti-competitive. The FTC alleged the affected markets would include Baltimore-Washington, D.C.; Richmond,
Virginia; Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia; Syracuse, New York; and Indianapolis.
According to the initial complaint, the merged firm would
also be more likely to unilaterally raise prices in the affected markets, which
would, in turn, make it easier for other companies to do so. As a result, cement
consumers would allegedly face higher prices throughout the markets.
The FTC voted 3-0 to approve the divestiture.