On 7 October 2015, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) opened an investigation into fourteen companies supplying home care services in relation to the provision of oxygen and ventilation therapies. The companies in question - Linde Medicale, Medicair Italia, Medicair Sud, Medigas Italia, Magaldi Life, Sapio Life, Eubios, OXY Live, Ossigas, Respiraire, SICO - Società Italiana Carburo Ossigeno, Vivisol, Vivisol Napoli and Vitalaire Italia - are alleged to have coordinated their conduct regarding various tender procedures held by local health authorities in order to: i) split the market; and ii) increase the price that the relevant contracting authority will have to pay for the tendered services. According to the AGCM, the alleged coordination consisted primarily of submitting coordinated bids and/or refraining from submitting any competitive bid.
Further to the adoption of a handbook establishing measures to counteract cartels between companies participating in public tenders (Vademecum per le stazioni appaltanti, volto all’individuazione di criticità concorrenziali nel settore degli appalti pubblici), the AGCM has been strongly focusing its enforcement activity on cartels in relation to public tenders.
Between January and September 2015 the following six parties have been fined for violating Article 2 of the Competition Act and/or Article 101 TFEU, within public tender proceedings:
- Proceedings no. I765 – Gare gestioni fanghi in Lombardia e Piemonte (€ 4,691,208);
- Proceedings no. I744 – Gare RCA per trasporto pubblico locale (€ 28,943,474 €);
- Proceedings no. I775 – Procedure di affidamento dei servizi ristoro su rete autostradale Aspi;
- Proceedings no. I771 – Servizi di post-produzione di programmi televisivi Rai;
- Proceedings no. I759 – Forniture Trenitalia (€ 1,987,307.16); and
- Proceedings no. I784 – Ecoambiente-bando di gara per lo smaltimento dei rifiuti da raccolta differenziata (€ 1,181,496).
The above shows the AGCM’s increasing focus on detecting cartels, in particular those that may affect the public spending. As such, companies operating in this environment are advised to take antitrust compliance in Italy very seriously.