Saturday 21 September 2019

Construction suppliers in cartel probe

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Stock picture
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

A BRITISH company that provides products to construction firms and is also active in Ireland has been accused by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) of being involved in a cartel in the UK that sought to reduce competition and inflate prices.

The stock market-listed company, VP, conspired with two other firms in the UK to share confidential information on pricing and commercial strategies, the CMA has provisionally concluded. VP's Irish unit generated sales of €3.3m in the year to the end of last March and made a €790,000 profit. Its Irish operations are not subject to the CMA investigation, however.

VP also said the CMA's investigation relates solely to its Groundworks division, and no other part of the group's business. The CMA deems VP to be the liable parent.

The CMA said VP and another company, MGF, were involved in the alleged cartel practice for a total of almost two years. The three companies, including Mabey, provide groundworks products used to protect excavations such as those made for foundations or laying pipes, from collapse.

"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," noted the watchdog.

"Mabey has confessed its role and will not be fined in accordance with the CMA's leniency programme," it added.

The CMA's findings are so far provisional, and do not necessarily lead to a decision that the companies have breached competition law.

Irish Independent

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