Supply of galvanised steel tanks for water storage: civil investigation

The CMA has issued 2 decisions imposing fines on suppliers of galvanised steel tanks for breaching competition law.

Case reference: CE/9691/12

Case timetable

Date Action
29 March 2017 Publication of non-confidential versions of infringement decisions (Main Cartel Decision and Information Exchange Decision)
19 December 2016 Two infringement decisions issued (Main Cartel Decision and Information Exchange Decision)
14 November 2016 Receipt of written representations on Draft Penalty Statement
1 November 2016 Draft Penalty Statement issued to non-settling party
August to December 2016 Considering parties’ representations; decision on case outcome; preparation of infringement decisions
June to September 2016 Receipt of written and oral representations on statement of objections
May 2016 Statement of objections issued
March 2016 Three parties agree to settle investigation with CMA
January 2016 Investigation continuing (further update by the end of May 2016)
September 2015 Decision taken to proceed with the investigation (further update by the end of January 2016)
November 2014 to September 2015 Further investigation including further analysis and potential further information requests following conclusion of criminal proceedings
November 2014 Decision on whether to proceed with investigation or to close the investigation
November 2012 to November 2014 Initial investigation: information gathering, including issuance of formal or informal information requests and parties’ responses
27 November 2012 Investigation opened

Non-confidential infringement decisions

29 March 2017: The CMA has published non-confidential versions of the 2 decisions in this case.

Infringement decisions

19 December 2016: The CMA issued 2 decisions finding that suppliers of galvanised steel tanks have infringed UK and EU competition law in relation to the supply of galvanised steel tanks for water storage.

In one decision (the Main Cartel Decision), the CMA found that 4 suppliers of galvanised steel tanks infringed competition law between 2005 and 2012 by engaging in price-fixing, bid-rigging and market sharing by way of customer allocation (the Main Cartel). The CMA imposed penalties totalling £2.5 million.

In a separate decision (the Information Exchange Decision), the CMA found that 3 of the parties to the Main Cartel and another tank supplier, which was required to pay a penalty of £130,000, infringed competition law by exchanging commercially sensitive information regarding their current pricing and future pricing intentions at a single meeting in July 2012.

The CMA also conducted a related criminal investigation into whether individuals had committed an offence under section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002. These proceedings have now concluded.

Statement of objections

26 May 2016: The CMA issued a statement of objections alleging that 5 suppliers of galvanised steel tanks have infringed UK and EU competition law in relation to the supply of galvanised steel tanks for water storage.

Following the settlement announced in March 2016, the statement of objections sets out the CMA’s case against 4 suppliers who have admitted their participation in an illegal cartel agreement to share the market between them, fix prices and rig bids between 2005 and 2012.

The statement of objections also includes a separate allegation that 3 of the suppliers who were party to that cartel agreement also exchanged competitively sensitive information regarding their current and future pricing intentions with another supplier (who was not party to the main cartel agreement) in July 2012.

Settlement

21 March 2016: Three businesses admitted participating in an illegal cartel in relation to the supply of cylindrical galvanised steel tanks in the UK and agreed to pay fines totalling more than £2.6 million. This includes a discount to reflect the resource savings to the CMA generated by the companies’ admissions and their co-operation with the CMA’s investigation. A fourth member of the cartel reported the cartel conduct under the CMA’s leniency policy and will not be fined, provided it continues to co-operate and complies with the other conditions of the CMA’s leniency policy.

Contacts

Assistant project director

Barbara Lievens (barbara.lievens@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Project director

Deborah Wilkie (deborah.wilkie@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Senior responsible officer

Stephen Blake (stephen.blake@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.