Hungary: The government has enacted an ‘architecture law’ which will increase its role in decision making within the Hungarian cement industry. When it enters force in July 2023, the law will let the government set producers’ cement volumes and prices. It will also require the companies to sell their products to the market-leading retail network, and will give the government a right of first refusal over future divestments.
Der Spiegel News has reported that the government previously enacted decrees that further regulated limestone production, imposed 90% ‘additional mining levies’ and required producers to obtain special permits to export their cement abroad. Duna-Dráva Cement, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Materials and Schwenk Zement, reportedly began making losses on its bagged cement sales due to the new rules. Both Germany-based owners separately received letters inviting them to sell a stake in Duna-Dráva Cement, and thanking them for their cooperation, in 2022. The sender identified themself as the owner of an ‘intensively expanding group of companies’ with a ‘dominant position in the Hungarian building materials industry.’ Anti-corruption organisation Transparency International identified the correspondent as a friend of Hungarian President Viktor Orbán.
Regarding the incoming change to the law, a representative of Heidelberg Materials said “These regulations are a total violation of all the rules of the European internal market. It is obvious that the government wants to pressure foreign cement manufacturers to sell.”