The DOJ and European Commission (EC) each announced agreements with London-based ceramic refractories producer Cookson Group plc that would allow its proposed US$1 billion acquisition of rival Foseco plc. Although each company is headquartered in the United Kingdom, Cookson and Foseco are two of only three producers of carbon bonded ceramics (CBCs) in North America. CBCs are used in steelmaking and foundry operations to control the flow of molten steel during continuous steel casting procedures.

On March 4, 2008 the DOJ simultaneously filed a civil complaint challenging the transaction and a proposed settlement agreement. According to the complaint, the acquisition as proposed would have eliminated competition in the US market for two types of CBCs – namely, stopper rods and ladle shrouds. If approved by the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the settlement agreement will require the companies to divest Foseco’s entire US CBC business including its Saybrook, Ohio plant and related assets. In addition, the DOJ must approve the buyer of the divested assets.

In Europe, Cookson agreed to divest Foseco’s CBC business and its ceramic foam filters division.

The DOJ and EC cooperated throughout the investigation of the Cookson-Foseco merger, and will continue to coordinate efforts to oversee compliance with their respective settlement agreements. Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Thomas O. Barnett, stated, “This resolution by the Antitrust Division and European Commission is an example of effective cooperation in global competition enforcement.”