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Bundeskartellamt imposes further fines on manufacturers of concrete paving stones on account of price-fixing agreements

Date of issue: 11.09.2014

The Bundeskartellamt has concluded its investigations in the cartel proceedings against manufacturers of concrete paving stones and imposed further fines on 14 companies and 17 individuals involved on account of price-fixing agreements. The fines amount in total to approx. 6.2 million euros. The proceedings concern agreements on prices for concrete paving stones in the market region of North Rhine-Westphalia and the bordering districts of neighbouring federal states during the period from the end of 2006 (in part from the end of 2007) to early 2010. The companies concerned are:
AHE Verbundsteine Betonwaren GmbH & Co. KG, Rinteln; Basamentwerke Böcke GmbH, Oberhausen; Bernhard Hartmann GmbH & Co. KG, Ahlen; Betonwerk Lintel GmbH & Co. KG, Rheda-Wiedenbrück; Betonwerk Münstermann GmbH, Gütersloh; BVW Beton- und Verbundsteinwerke GmbH & Co. KG, Hamminkeln; Gustav Siekmann GmbH & Co. KG, Bielefeld; Heinrich Klostermann GmbH & Co. KG, Coesfeld; Heinrich Niemeier GmbH & Co. KG, Diepholz; Kann GmbH Baustoffwerke, Bendorf; Pebüso-Betonwerke Heribert Büscher GmbH & Co. KG, Münster and Rekers Betonwerk GmbH & Co. KG, Spelle.

Over a much shorter period the companies Feiter Betonsteinwerk GmbH, Linnich and Metten Stein & Design GmbH & Co. KG, Overath - a manufacturer which also specialises in the higher value product segment - were involved as well. Following its application for leniency in the spring of 2010, no fine was imposed on Berding Beton GmbH, Steinfeld, in accordance with the Bundeskartellamt's leniency programme.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "The companies participated in the so-called "West and East business meetings" in North Rhine-Westphalia, which took place around five times a year. There was a basic consensus among the participating companies that there was to be no aggressive price competition between them in the sale of standard concrete paving stones for road, garden and landscape construction. Nearly all the companies mentioned participated in a "concrete paving stone" market information system, the results of which were discussed at the business meetings. On this basis price increases of a specific magnitude were agreed which were to take effect on the next suitable dates for 2007 (in some cases 2008) to 2010. The high-turnover standard "8 cm grey paver" was generally used as a reference product in the price discussions.”

The business meetings were organised and moderated by a regional managing director of the trade association, on whom a fine was also imposed.

In calculating the fines the Bundeskartellamt took into account that five of the fined companies cooperated with the authority in compliance with the leniency programme. In addition, a settlement could be reached with most of the companies, which also helped to reduce the level of their fines.

In the proceedings against manufacturers of concrete paving stones the authority had already imposed fines of approx. 2.3 million euros in 2012 on account of price-fixing agreements applying to other market regions (see also press release of 1 March 2012). These were imposed on another six companies and individuals involved. In total, the fines imposed in the overall "concrete paving stone" proceedings thus amount to at least 8.5 million euros.

Some of the fines are not yet final. These decisions can be appealed to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.

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