Derry concrete firm faces cartel allegation

UK Competition and Markets Authority investigating FP McCann Limited

The CMA said “no assumption should be made that FP McCann Limited has infringed the law”. Photograph: iStock

The CMA said “no assumption should be made that FP McCann Limited has infringed the law”. Photograph: iStock

 

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating Northern Ireland-headquartered FP McCann Limited, one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of precast concrete products in the UK.

The CMA said on Thursday that it is investigating the conduct of Co Derry-based FP McCann Limited, which operates 12 manufacturing facilities in the UK, as part of an inquiry into an alleged cartel.

The CMA has stressed that “at this stage, no assumption can be made” that FP McCann Limited “has broken the law”.

The UK competition authority has alleged that “three drainage product manufacturers broke competition law by co-ordinating prices for customers and sharing the market”.

In a statement issued on Thursday the CMA said: “Two of the businesses – Derbyshire-based Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd and Somerset-based CPM Group Ltd – have admitted breaking competition law by taking part in a cartel, which started in 2006 and continued for almost seven years.

“A third company, FP McCann Ltd, headquartered in Northern Ireland, is also under investigation and has not made any admissions.”

In its “statement of objections” the CMA said it had “provisionally found” that the companies had held regular, secret meetings to set up and operate an alleged illegal cartel.

The CMA said “no assumption should be made that FP McCann Limited has infringed the law”.

Fix or co-ordinate prices

“Its aim was 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.

“These products are used in large infrastructure projects across Great Britain, including water management, roads and railways. Typical customers include engineering and construction companies; utilities providers; and local and national government,” the UK competition authority stated.

The CMA claims that over the duration of the alleged cartel “the companies were leading players, accounting for over half of the market. From 2010 onwards, they held over 90 per cent of this market”.

Michael Grenfell, the authority’s executive director of enforcement, said: “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.”

According to the UK authority Stanton Bonna and CPM have admitted to participating in the alleged cartel and have agreed to pay fines as part of a settlement but FPM is not part of the settlement.