Iveco Magirus and Metz Aerials in German cartel ruling

By Murray Pollok29 July 2011

The German competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, has imposed a fine of €17.5 million on Iveco Magirus Brandschutztechnik for its involvement in anti-competitive agreements on the manufacture of turntable ladder fire fighting machines.

The authority said in a statement that Metz Aerials, the German aerial ladder subsidiary of Austria's Rosenbauer, was also part of the cartel, but has not been fined because Rosenbauer informed the Bundeskartellamt of the cartel agreement in 2010 "by way of a leniency application".

The Bundeskartellamt said it had referred the sales managers and CEOs involved "to the competent public prosecutor's office for examination under criminal law."

In July, Iveco Magirus Brandschutztechnik said its managing director, Mr Roel Nizet, had resigned from the company in May at his own request.

The cartel agreement concerned the manufacture of fire engines with turntable ladders between 1998 and November 2007, of which Iveco and Rosenbauer have a combined market share of close to 100%, said the Bundeskartellamt.

The authority said that during this period the companies' sales managers met at regular intervals and divided tenders among each other on the basis of project lists.

The authority said that to conceal the cartel agreements, the sales managers initially communicated via prepaid mobiles and since the football world championship 2006 in a ‘football code' referring to cartel meetings as ‘training' and to rebates in the form of match results.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, said; "It is not only illegal agreements on prices that cause significant damage to the economy. If so-called competitors agree to divide business among each other the municipalities' system of public tendering is undermined.

"As a result, not the best manufacturer with the most economic bid will be awarded the contract but the one whose turn it is according to the agreement."

The fine is not yet final and can be appealed at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court. However, the Bundeskartellamt said Iveco Magirus' "willingness to end the proceedings by settlement has been considered in the calculation of the fine."

The fine follows an earlier cartel exposed in February this year concerning four manufacturers of fire fighting appliances: Albert Ziegler GmbH & Co. KG, Schlingmann GmbH & Co. KG, Rosenbauer Group and Iveco Magirus.

The proceedings concerning this case are ongoing in respect of Iveco Magirus, but the other three companies have been fined a total of €20.5 million.

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