Breedon acquisition of Cemex raises competition concerns

Breedon's acquisition of Cemex has raised issues with the CMA
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE English-based parent of a number of prominent Northern Ireland construction firms has been given five days to address competition concerns about its £178 million acquisition of certain Cemex assets earlier this year.

Breedon Group's decision to buy a cement terminal, asphalt plants and dozens of other sites supplying building materials "gives rise to concerns", the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

The watchdog said that its initial investigation has found 15 local markets across the UK where the deal could create problems with competition in the supply of ready-mixed concrete, aggregates or asphalt.

And it says Breedon and Cemex must address its concerns within five working days, otherwise the merger will be referred for an in-depth phase two investigation.

Breedon is the largest independent construction materials group in the UK with nearly 60 quarries, 27 asphalt plants and around 200 ready-mixed concrete plants.

In 2018 it acquired Whitemountain, Lagan Cement, Lagan Brick, Lagan Asphalt and Welsh Slate from the Lagan Group in Belfast in a £455 million deal.

Following the acquisition, Lagan Group's brick, tile and bagged cement products have since been rebranded as Breedon.

CMA's senior director Colin Raftery said: "Breedon products are widely used in a range of building projects across the UK and account for a material part of the construction costs faced by businesses and public bodies.

"As the majority of these materials are sourced locally, it's vital to ensure that enough competition will remain at the local level so there's enough choice and prices remain fair."

In response, Breedon said: "The outcome is broadly in line with our expectations and the company now has a short period during which to offer remedies to address the CMA's outstanding concerns.

"These are expected to take several months to implement, during which time the former Cemex assets will continue to be held separate from Breedon and operated as Pinnacle Construction Materials."

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