Millennium Post

Compat stays multi-billion dollar Lafarge-Holcim deal

In a setback for the multi-billion dollar Lafarge-Holcim merger deal, Compat has stayed the alternative asset sales proposal approved by the Competition Commission.

The Competition Appellate Tribunal's (Compat) decision has come on a petition filed by Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd against a CCI order on the matter. In February this year, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had passed an order approving an alternative asset sale proposal to ensure anti-competition concerns are addressed for completion of the Lafarge-Holcim deal in the country.

The tribunal has given time till May 9 for responses on the matter and till then, the order has been stayed. "Meanwhile, operation of order dated February 2, 2016 passed by the Competition Commission of India... shall remain stayed," Compat Chairman G S Singhvi said in the order passed on Wednesday. Dalmia Cement's counsel argued that there is no provision in the Competition Act, 2002, for acceptance of the alternative proposal in a combination case, once the terms of combination have been finalised by the Commission, according to the order. The counsel had also said that "on this ground alone, the impugned order (passed by CCI) is liable to be set aside," it noted.

"It shall be the appellant's duty to serve the respondents before the next date, failing which the interim order passed today shall stand automatically vacated," Compat said. Last year, Holcim and Lafarge merged their operations to create one of the world's largest cement makers. However, finding certain competition issues, CCI had directed sale of assets to address the concerns in India.

In February, the regulator cleared a new asset sale plan under which the entity would divest three cement plants and two grinding stations of Lafarge India that are estimated to be worth Rs 10,000 crore. Back in March 2015, CCI had ordered sale of certain assets for the deal to go through, but the proposal could not move ahead. 
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