Veidekke and NCC barred from market

By Helen Wright07 February 2012

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) said it planned to exclude the country's largest asphalt contractors, NCC and Veidekke, from competing for contracts in the Trøndelag region of central Norway, for the course of 2012.

The NPRA's decision comes after the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) last year found evidence that both companies had breached its antitrust laws and had been involved in illegal price-fixing and market-sharing activities in the region.

The NPRA said Veidekke and NCC would be debarred from competing for seven road maintenance and paving contracts in the Trøndelag region this year, representing an asphalt volume of about 270,000 tonnes.

NPRA director of roads Terje Moe Gustavsen said the decision was taken on the basis that the two companies had acknowledged having participated in cartel activity, and it sent a "clear message" about how the authority looks on such abuses.

But Veidekke has said it will contest the exclusion, claiming that because it had self-reported the collusive behaviour, it had already met the NCA's conditions for full leniency and avoided a NOK270 million (€35 million) penalty.

Basis for decision questioned

Veidekke senior vice president of communication Kai Krüger Henriksen said, "We fail to recognise that the basis for such a decision exists, and will therefore contest the decision. We will, however, study the content of the notification before making further statements."

In contrast, NCC was hit last year with a NOK165 million (€22 million) penalty from the NCC for its price fixing activities in the sector.

At the time, NCC said it admitted to some circumstances of collusion which it claimed were undertaken by a single, rogue employee. However, the company denied other instances of collusion cited by the NCA, and said it considered the penalty "excessive".

A company spokesperson said NCC was currently assessing the impact of the NPRA's decision to debar it from this year's contracts.

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