UPDATE 1-EU scraps probe into Lafarge, Cemex, 6 others due to lack of evidence

viernes 31 de julio de 2015 06:35 GYT

(Adds companies involved in the case)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, July 31 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators scrapped on Friday a seven-year long cartel investigation into French cement maker Lafarge, Mexico's Cemex , HeidelbergCement and five others after failing to find evidence of a cartel.

The European Commission opened the case with dawn raids in November 2008 and September 2009.

Two years later it ordered the companies, which included Swiss firm Holcim, Spain's Cementos Portland Valderrivas , Germany's Schwenk Zement, and Italian companies Buzzi Unicem and Italmobiliare to provide the relevant information.

Seven of the companies subsequently challenged the order at Europe's second-highest court, which however backed the EU order.

The EU competition authority said preliminary indications had suggested the companies, which it did not name on Friday, fixed prices and curbed imports and exports in breach of EU rules.

"The evidence obtained in the Commission's investigation was not sufficiently conclusive to confirm these initial concerns. The Commission will continue to monitor closely developments in the European cement markets," the EU executive said in a statement.

Lafarge and Holcim merged recently while Italmobiliare holds a 45 percent stake in Italcementi, which is now subject to a takeover offer from HeidelbergCement. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)