Competition law | Fines against quota cartel

Competition law | Fines against quota cartel

Competition law | The German Federal Cartel Office has imposed fines totaling EUR 7.3 million on Maurer SE from Munich and Mageba GmbH, two manufacturers of multi-profile bridge expansion joints (transition structures for road bridges), for a prohibited quota cartel.

Bridge expansion joints are structural elements that ensure that changes in the position of bridges due to temperature fluctuations are compensated for by pulling them apart or pushing them together. The agreement reached between the companies concerned both new bridge construction and bridge renovation. The highly organized cartel covered almost the entire nationwide market volume for the supply of multi-profile transition structures. The Bundeskartellamt’s investigations revealed that managers of the companies concerned met in 2004 and agreed that the market shares existing at the time would be retained and that Maurer SE and Mageba GmbH would be entitled to a quota in future.

The implementation of this plan and compliance with the quotas took place at meetings and in telephone calls between various sales employees. In addition, a quota adjustment was carried out at so-called “year-end meetings” in the event of significant quota deviations. To this end, specific contracts that have not yet been awarded were allocated to the respective company as compensation projects. In addition, those responsible agreed that a price formula should be used to calculate the prices. The President of the Federal Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt, criticized the fact that the only two manufacturers of multi-profile bridge expansion joints had formed a quota cartel over several years, thus affecting an important area of public infrastructure and ultimately investments by the federal government, federal states and municipalities. However, the fact that the two companies cooperated fully in the investigation and that the proceedings were concluded by mutual agreement was taken into account when setting the fine.

Source of information: Press office of the Bundeskartellamt, press release dated 10.02.2022


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