Drainage suppliers to Crossrail, Tideway and HS2 have all been provisionally found to have been part of an illegal cartel.
Derbyshire-based Stanton Bonna Concrete, Somerset-based CPM Group and Northern Ireland-based FP McCann have all been provisionally found by the Competition and Markets Authority to have broken competition law.
The CMA has found that the companies held regular secret meetings to set up and operate an illegal cartel. As a result, the three firms controlled 90% of the market share.
The cartel’s aim was, according to the CMA, to fix or coordinate prices and share out the market for certain pre-cast concrete drainage products in Great Britain, with the intention of increasing prices and reducing competition.
At present, Stanton Bonna Concrete is supplying concrete track solutions to Crossrail. The firm has participated in designed roughly 63,000 twin block booted sleepers and 4,500 high attenuation sleepers for the project, which are primarily designed to attenuate noise and vibration whilst generating savings on both the track construction costs and programme, according to Stanton Bonna’s website .
However, a spokesperson for Crossrail denied any direct relationship to any of the firms. “To clarify, neither Stanton Bonna Concrete, CPM Group nor FP McCann have direct contractual or commercial relationships with Crossrail Limited,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, FP McCann is involved in supplying Crossrail and the London Cable Tunnels project with precast concrete segmental shafts and tunnel linings as well as gearing up to work on Thames Tideway Tunnel scheme, according to the supplier’s website.
In addition, CPM Group is listed as a supplier to projects such as Hinkley Point and HS2 in a recent takeover report from parent company Marshalls. “CPM’s routes to market are through merchants, albeit the Company supplies new housebuilding and infrastructure projects (including Hinkley Point, HS2, and A14 Cambridge),” the report says.
The alleged offences took place from 2006 for seven years, before HS2 enabling works begun.
Throughout the period of the alleged cartel activity, the companies accounted for over half of the market. From 2010 onwards, they held over 90% of this market.
CMA executive director of enforcement Michael Grenfell said: “Cartels damage competition and lead to less choice, less innovation and increased prices for customers.
“We’ve provisionally found that these three firms secretly shared out the market and colluded on prices for construction products used in many building projects across Great Britain.
“The CMA does not tolerate such practices and will use our enforcement tools to crack down on those it believes are taking part in illegal cartels.”
Stanton Bonna and CPM have admitted to participating in the alleged cartel and have agreed to pay fines which will be determined at the end of the CMA’s overall investigation.
FPM is not part of this settlement process and, at this stage, no assumption can be made that it has broken the law.
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