11 June 2015

CNMC carries out new dawn raids in its concrete, cement and construction products investigation

The Spanish Competition Authority (CNMC) announced on 8 June 2015 that it has carried out dawn raids on 27 and 28 May under the framework of its investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct in the concrete, cement and other construction products markets (S/DC/0525/14).

 Following suspicions of anti-competitive behaviour amongst these companies, the CNMC conducted unannounced inspections of various premises to find evidence confirming the existence of agreements between companies to fix prices, to impose similar commercial terms, to share sensitive information, or to enter into market-sharing agreements covering all of the national territory of Spain.

Following the raids, the CNMC considered that it had gathered enough information to presume the existence of anti-competitive behaviour and for this reason decided to commence infringement proceedings against the following companies: Betón Catalán S.A., Cementos Molins Industrial S.A., Promotora Mediterránea 2 S.A., Hanson Hispania S.A., Cemex España Operaciones S.L.U., Tenesiver S.L., Comercial Arroyo Construcción S.A., Hormigones Giral S.A., Cementos Portland Valderrivas S.A. and Cementos Lemona S.A. 

On 10 April 2015, the Spanish watchdog revealed the opening of infringement proceedings against four additional companies: Materiales y Hormigones S.L., Lafarge Cementos, S.A., Holcim España, S.A. and Hormibusa, S.L. 

With these new dawn raids the CNMC seeks to gather more information that could support the idea that the aforementioned companies have acted anti-competitively contrary to Article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act 15/2007. Since the opening of the infringement proceedings the CNMC has 18 months to investigate the alleged anti-competitive conduct carried out by the target companies. At the end of this period, the watchdog will issue a decision which can be challenged within two months before the Audiencia Nacional, the judicial authority entitled to review administrative decisions taken by the CNMC. 

It is important to note that this is not the first investigation to be opened in the Spanish construction market, as on 1 December 2014 the CNMC announced that it had carried out dawn raids at the premises of several companies operating in the precast concrete walling sector.  Separately, in December 2014, the watchdog extended the existing infringement proceedings in the modular construction case against 12 additional undertakings. Further, on 12 February 2015, the CNMC announced the decision to fine companies in the Spanish concrete post market €1.87 million.

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