The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had provisionally found that three rental suppliers of groundwork equipment formed a cartel to reduce competition and keep prices up.

The CMA is investigating M.G.F. (Trench Construction Systems), Vp plc and Mabey Hire Ltd. VP plc operates the Groundforce trenching and shoring rental business.

Shoring

The authority said its provisional findings were that Vp and MGF operated the cartel for periods totalling nearly two years and that Mabey took part for a single period of five months. CMA said Mabey blew the whistle on the cartel and will not be fined, as long as it continued to cooperate with the investigation.

The firms can now consider CMA’s provisional findings and respond. The authority will consider any responses before issuing its final findings.

VP plc said in a statement that the investigation concerned only its Groundforce business and that it was reviewing CMA’s provisional findings “and will continue to cooperate fully with the CMA. The Group will make further announcements as appropriate.”

Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement, said: “These are three major suppliers of equipment used to keep construction workers safe. It is crucial that builders and their customers benefit from genuinely competitive pricing for this essential equipment.”

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