Advisors or individuals reading this blog, and with interests in the construction sector, may like to take a look at the press release recently published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA has provisionally found that three businesses formed a cartel to reduce competition and keep prices up. This involved sharing confidential information on pricing and commercial strategy and coordinating their commercial activities.
In their announcement the CMA said:
Groundworks products (including braces, props and sheeting) are used to protect excavations – such as those made for foundations or for laying pipes – from collapse and are important for keeping construction sites safe. The 3 companies supply these products for a range of major housing and road developments, railway line works and water pipe upgrades.
The companies’ behaviour came to light after one of the firms blew the whistle and brought information about the conduct to the CMA’s attention. One of the firms has confessed its role and will not be fined in accordance with the CMA’s leniency programme – provided it continues to cooperate with the CMA’s investigation.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement, said:
These are 3 major suppliers of equipment used to keep construction workers safe. It is crucial that builders and their customers benefit from genuinely competitive pricing for this essential equipment.
Everyone must follow competition law, which protects customers from being exploited and paying more, as well as encouraging companies to compete for business in other ways – through innovation, quality and service.
The CMA uses its powers vigorously and robustly to root out illegal cartels.
The CMA’s findings are, at this stage in its investigation, provisional and do not necessarily lead to a decision that the companies have breached competition law. The firms now have the opportunity to consider the detail of the CMA’s provisional findings and respond to it. The CMA will carefully consider any representations made before issuing its final findings as to whether the law has been broken.