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Concrete products companies fined £36 million for illegal cartel

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CMA fines FP McCann, Stanton Bona Concrete and CPM Group for breaking competition law

THREE firms have been issued with fines totalling more than £36 million for breaking competition law in supplying certain precast concrete drainage products.

Following an investigation by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), the Northern Ireland-based firm FP McCann Ltd are facing a fine of more than £25 million for their part in the scheme. Derbyshire-based Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd and Somerset-based CPM Group Ltd are due to pay more than £7 million and £4 million respectively.

The fines have been imposed after the CMA found that the companies broke competition law by taking part in an illegal cartel covering Great Britain. From July 2006 to March 2013, they agreed to fix or co-ordinate 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. At the time of the infringement the firms were the leading players in the market.

Last year, two of the three firms, Stanton Bonna Concrete and CPM Group, 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.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: ‘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 will continue to crack down on cartels in the construction sector and in other industries.’

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