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WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a joint antitrust settlement, the Department of Justice and the State of Connecticut today cleared a $270 million deal between two asphalt companies after the companies agreed to divest a quarry and two asphalt plants. By restructuring the deal, and preserving competition in the Hartford area, the Washington, D.C. based-Oldcastle Northeast may acquire all of the outstanding securities of Tilcon Inc. of New Britain, Connecticut.

The joint antitrust suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, said that the deal as originally proposed would have allowed Oldcastle to become the dominant asphalt concrete company in the greater Hartford area market with the power to increase prices. Both companies compete in the production of asphalt concrete.

At the same time, the Department agreed to a settlement, which if approved by the court, would eliminate the transaction's potential harm to competition.

Asphalt concrete, also known as blacktop, is used principally for constructing or resurfacing roads, driveways and parking lots.

Anne K. Bingaman, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division, said, "This joint settlement preserves competition and protects customers from higher prices in the asphalt concrete industry."

The settlement requires Oldcastle Northeast to divest an East Granby, Connecticut quarry and two of the three asphalt plants located at the quarry. Without the divestiture, there would be only one competitive asphalt plant remaining in the greater Hartford area.

The proposed settlement is the result of an investigation by the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division and the Office of the Attorney General of Connecticut.

Oldcastle is a subsidiary of CRH plc of the Republic of Ireland. In 1995, Oldcastle had sales of about $314 million.

Tilcon Inc. is a subsidiary of BTR plc of the United Kingdom headquartered in London. In 1995, Tilcon's sales totaled about $349 million.

This is the ninth joint enforcement action by the Antitrust Division and State Attorneys General in the past two years. Working closely with state enforcers on matters of mutual interest has been a major priority of the Antitrust Division.

As required by the Tunney Act, the proposed consent decree will be published in the Federal Register, along with the Department's competitive impact statement. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed decree during a 60-day comment period to J. Robert Kramer, Litigation II Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1401 H St., N.W., Suite 3000, Washington, D.C. 20530.

At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the federal district court in Connecticut, may enter the consent decree upon its finding that it serves the public interest.