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EU rejects German request to review Holcim, Cemex deal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Monday it had rejected Berlin's request to refer to the German competition authority a proposed takeover by Swiss cement maker Holcim (VTX:HOLN) of some of Mexican rival Cemex's (MEX:CEMEXCPO) European assets.

Holcim intends to acquire part of Cemex's activities in cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates in western Germany and a small number of plants and sites in France and the Netherlands.

The German competition authority had asked to review the proposed deal itself, arguing that it threatened to significantly affect competition in the cement markets of northern and western Germany.

However, the Commission, which acts as the competition authority in the 28-nation bloc, said the deal would affect cement markets outside Germany, such as parts of Belgium, the Netherlands and the northeast of France.

"The Commission concluded that the geographic scope of the affected cement markets is wider than national and that therefore the Commission cannot refer the assessment of the transaction to Germany," it said in a statement.

The Commission announced last October it was opening an in-depth investigation into the proposed takeover. It has until March 31 to take a final decision.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Louise Heavens)