Swiss giant Holcim’s India units and more than a dozen other cement manufacturers colluded to raise prices and restrict supplies for years, which included regularly inspecting one another to ensure there was no breach of the agreements, according to a federal antitrust probe.
The investigations arm of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has held top leadership – CEOs or Managing Directors – of Holcim units ACC and Ambuja, market leader UltraTech and 17 other firms such as Shree Cement and Dalmia Cement liable for antitrust violations.
The investigation report, issued last month and seen by Reuters, is the penultimate but most significant stage of the CCI probe that started in 2019. The report, which is not public, will now be reviewed by CCI’s top three officials who have powers to impose fines and will give companies a last chance to defend themselves.
Potentially, the cement giants could be fined millions of dollars. Together, the 20 companies control more than three-quarters of the over 500 million ton installed cement capacity in India, the world’s second-largest producer after China.
The report said executives of the companies discussed coordinated price hikes in Zoom calls and in-person meetings at company guest houses, with some officials using personal mail to communicate with rivals. WhatsApp messaging was also extensively used.
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