The PCA sanctions five undertakings for anticompetitive practices in public tenders for the supply of pre-fabricated modules to Parque Escolar

Press Release n.º 18/2015
  
The PCA sanctions five undertakings for anticompetitive practices in public tenders for the supply of pre-fabricated modules to Parque Escolar 
  
Undertakings collaborate and renounce the right to judicial review
  
The Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) sanctioned the undertakings Algeco – Construções Pré-Fabricadas, S.A. (‘Algeco’), Elevatrans – Pré-fabricados, S.A. (‘Elevatrans’), Grupo Vendap S.A. (‘Vendap’), Movex – Produção, Venda e Aluguer de Módulos Pré-Fabricados, S.A. (‘Movex’) and U.E.M. – Unidade de Estruturas Metálicas S.A. (‘U.E.M.’) with a fine totalling 831.810,72 euros for anticompetitive practices related to their participation in public tenders launched by Parque Escolar, E.P.E., in the years 2009 and 2010.
 
These tenders were intended to promote the supply and assembly of pre-fabricated modular constructions, for rental purposes, for the temporary installation of class rooms, to accommodate school activities and support services in the schools under intervention, in the course of the public works established by the Parque Escolar Secondary School Modernisation Programme.
 
The investigation undertaken by the PCA revealed that between 2009 and 2010, the undertakings celebrated and executed an agreement, to partition the market among themselves and to fix prices, with the purpose of restricting and distorting competition, to a considerable extent, in the market for the supply and the assembly of prefabricated modular constructions in the context of the identified public tenders. 
 
In particular, the undertakings manipulated their tender proposals and aligned the offering prices in order to artificially determine the winner of each tender.
 
 
When setting the amount of the fine, the PCA took into consideration the collaboration provided by the undertakings throughout the course of the investigation, under the leniency programme and under the settlement procedure, as well as the business turnover of the participating undertakings.
 
The use of these two instruments proved to be essential, on the one hand, for the finding, establishment and sanctioning of the anticompetitive practices under review, and on the other hand, for the simplification and efficiency of the proceedings.
 
Under the settlement procedure, the parties renounce the right to judicial review, thereby benefiting from a reduction of the fine, which in this case amounted to 10%.
 
This was the first time the settlement procedure was used in proceedings initiated under the New Competition Act
 
The fines applicable to the five undertakings amounted to a total of 831.810 euros, distributed in the following manner:
 
• Algeco: exempted from the payment of the fine under the leniency programme;
• Elevatrans: sanctioned to a 55.000 euros fine, as a result of the reduction applied following the submitted settlement proposal;
• Movex: sanctioned to a  90.000 euros fine, as a result of the reduction applied under the leniency programme as well as the additional reduction provided following the submitted settlement proposal;
• U.E.M.: sanctioned to a 200.000 euros fine, as a result of the reduction applied under the leniency programme as well as the additional reduction provided following the submitted settlement proposal;
• Vendap: sanctioned to a 486.810 euros fine, as a result of the reduction applied under the leniency programme as well as the additional reduction provided following the submitted settlement proposal.
 
The decision adopted by the PCA closes the investigation which was opened on january 8th, 2014.
 
On january 29th, 2014, the PCA undertook dawn raids in the premises of all of the participating undertakings.
 
The fight against cartels and the punishment of the offenders will continue to merit the highest priority in the enforcement activity of the PCA, given the damages it invariably causes to the well-fare of the consumers, to the State and to the tax payers, whenever such practices take place in the context of public tenders, in the form of higher prices, less quality, diversity or innovation.