NMa draws up report on road construction companies due to cartel agreement

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has drawn up a report on four road construction companies. NMa has drawn up this report on the grounds of a reasonable suspicion that the Competition Act has been infringed.

This report relates to the companies Koninklijke Wegenbouw Stevin B.V., Ballast Nedam Infra Noord Oost B.V., Gruno Wegenbouw B.V. and Koop Tjuchem B.V. According to NMa, these companies held discussions prior to entering into negotiations and entered into price agreements in relation to tendering for maintenance work on asphalt roads in the municipality of Scheemda in the period from 1988 up to and including 2000. This is the first report drawn up by NMa which makes use of data from Koop Tjuchem´s so-called parallel administration.

On the basis of an investigation, NMa has concluded that the companies referred to agreed on the amount for which they would subscribe to the tender issued by the municipality of Scheemda prior to submitting a tender. In accordance with this agreement, KWS would submit a tender for the lowest amount of the four parties and the other three parties would receive compensation from KWS for a value expressed as an amount of money.

NMa based its investigation partly on facts originating from the above-mentioned parallel accounts, which NMa has had in its possession since the end of 2001. In addition, NMa collected supplementary evidence, for instance through visits to companies.

A price agreement in relation to a tender is prohibited in accordance with the Competition Act. Any form of coordination between companies which deliberately eliminates the risks of mutual competition and substitutes these with de facto co-operation is in conflict with the Competition Act.

The companies in question may now respond to the report. After this, NMa will take a final decision on whether an infringement has been committed and, if so, whether a fine and/or an order subject to a penalty will be imposed.

Since the end of 2001, a special team at NMa has carried out intensive investigations into the formation of cartels in the construction sector. Earlier a report was drawn up on Heijmans and Solétanche due to a suspicion that they had entered into prohibited agreements in relation to the North-South underground railway line.

(source: NMa)

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