First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined three concrete firms a total of over £36m for colluding to keep the price of their products artificially high.
Following an investigation, the CMA fined Northern Ireland-based FP McCann Ltd more than £25m for its part in the scheme. Derbyshire-based Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd and Somerset-based CPM Group Ltd are due to pay more than £7mn and £4mn respectively.
The fines were imposed after the companies were found to have broken competition law by taking part in an illegal cartel covering Great Britain. From July 2006 to March 2013, the CMA says the three firms agreed to fix or coordinate their prices, shared the market by allocating customers and regularly exchanged competitively sensitive information.
These arrangements continued for nearly seven years and involved meetings attended by senior executives from each of the firms. The CMA recorded a number of these meetings and used them as evidence when arriving at its final decision.
Last year, two of the three firms, Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd and CPM Group Ltd, both accepted that they broke competition law by engaging in these arrangements. Accordingly, under the CMA’s provisions for leniency and settlement processes, they have received reductions to their fines.
Pre-cast concrete products, such as drainage pipes, are of crucial importance to large infrastructure projects and are often used in roads and railways or water management projects.
Customers for these products include engineering and construction firms, utilities providers and local and national government across Great Britain. At the time of the infringement the CMA says the firms were the leading players in the market.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli commented: “These companies entered into illegal arrangements where they secretly shared out the market for important building products and agreed to keep prices artificially high. This is totally unacceptable as it cheats customers out of getting a good deal.
“The CMA will not hesitate to issue appropriately large fines in these cases and we will continue to crack down on cartels in the construction sector and in other industries.”