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GER - Manufacturers of manhole covers and gully tops fined for price-fixing

The Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines totalling around 6 million euros on two manufacturers of manhole covers and gully tops and their representatives for agreements on prices and rebates and an agreement to carve up two major contracts between themselves.

The companies concerned are MeierGuss Sales & Logistics GmbH & Co. KG, based in Rahden, and Hydrotec Technologies AG in Wildeshausen.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “The infringements were uncovered with the help of the Bundeskartellamt’s anonymous whistle-blowing system. The two leading German manufacturers of manhole covers and gully tops engaged in illegal price-fixing agreements to the detriment of their customers. On several occasions in 2018, in telephone conversations and during a personal meeting at a trade fair, senior staff members of the two companies agreed to raise net prices and reduce rebates for certain product groups. These agreements were subsequently put into effect. Furthermore, in one particular case in August 2018, they also agreed to split two major orders from building material merchants between them.”

According to the Bundeskartellamt’s investigations, an agreement between the representatives of the two parties had existed at least from 16 May 2018 until the dawn raid that was conducted on 14 November 2018, under which the special rebate for specific standard products (referred to as “second rebate”) and the net prices for specific concrete/iron manhole covers applicable to major customers were to be agreed between the two companies. Based on this agreement the conditions were readjusted several times during the period mentioned above.


Senior staff members of MeierGuss and Hydrotec also agreed in mid-August of 2018 to split order enquiries received from two large building material merchants between them. The enquiries concerned deliveries for September and October 2018.
In setting the fine the Bundeskartellamt took into account that Hydrotec had cooperated extensively with the Bundeskartellamt in uncovering the agreements and that a settlement could be reached. In accordance with the authority’s leniency programme, no fine was imposed on the company with regard to the agreement to split the two orders. With the exception of the agreement to split the two orders, MeierGuss also acknowledged the facts as established by the Bundeskartellamt and agreed to a settlement. All the fines imposed are already final.
 

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