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Cemargos, Cemex Latam Drop on Price-Fixing Probe: Bogota Mover

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Cementos Argos SA and Cemex Latam Holdings SA tumbled after Colombian regulators said they are investigating alleged price fixing in the cement industry.

Cemargos, the country’s largest cement maker by market value, fell 1.3 percent to 8,910 pesos at 11:57 a.m. in Bogota. Cemex Latam fell 2.9 percent to 15,020 pesos. They were the two worst performers on the benchmark Colcap index, which declined 0.2 percent.

The Superintendency of Industry and Commerce has opened an investigation of five cement companies including Cemargos and Cemex Latam for “an alleged agreement to fix prices and divide up the market,” according to an e-mailed statement from the industry regulator after the close of trading yesterday. They could be fined as much as 59 billion pesos ($31 million) each if found to have violated Colombia’s free competition laws, the superintendency said.

The investigation will create a “short-term overhang,” Credit Suisse Group AG analysts including Vanessa Quiroga wrote in a report yesterday. “The news may hamper expectations for additional price increases.”

Cemargos Chief Executive officer Jorge Mario Velasquez urged investors to be calm on a conference call today, saying the company “doesn’t participate, and hasn’t and won’t participate and doesn’t base its competitive strategy on agreements that limit competition, that lead to a division of the market or to price fixing.”

Jorge Perez, a spokesman for Cemex in Monterrey, Mexico, declined to comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Jenkins in Bogota at cjenkins28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at papadopoulos@bloomberg.net

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