UK claims jurisdiction on Anglo American takeover of Tarmac

THE pounds 1.2BN takeover of the building materials group Tarmac by Anglo American, the South African mining giant, looked likely to be referred to the Competition Commission yesterday after the UK Government asked Brussels for the authority to vet the deal.

Kim Howells, the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs, asked for the merger to be referred back on the advice of John Bridgeman, the Director General of Fair Trading, citing concerns about its impact on competition in several "distinct markets".

This is the sixth time that the Government has asked the European Commission to refer a merger back to the UK authorities. Brussels agreed to three of those requests and in two cases the mergers were then sent to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

The Department of Trade and Industry declined to elaborate on the competition concerns raised by the Anglo- Tarmac deal. However, since the enlarged group would become Britain's second biggest supplier of aggregates and ready mixed concrete, there was always a strong chance that it would face regulatory hurdles. The deal would give Anglo 26 per cent of the aggregates market, 23 per cent of ready-mixed concrete demand and a 35 per cent share of coated stone sales. Two of the previous cases referred back to the UK from Brussels raised worries about competition in the building materials market.

Tarmac shares slipped 2 per cent from 549p to 538.5p on the news, against the 585p value of Anglo's offer. Anglo shares rose 90p to 4050p.

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