Two well known construction companies, Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd and CPM Group Ltd, have admitted to running an illegal cartel that started in 2006 and lasted just under seven years. An investigation held by the The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that the two companies operated meetings to act as an illegal cartel with the aim of ‘fixing and coordinating prices for certain precast concrete drainage products in Great Britain with the intention of reducing prices and reducing competition’.
These precast concrete drainage products are a major component within the rail industry but they are also used in road infrastructure and in water management, along with many other construction industries. During the time of the cartel, Stanton Bonna and CPM Group were the alleged leaders of the activities and from 2010 onwards, the two companies had over a 90% monopoly on the precast concrete market. A third company is also currently under investigation as a part of the case but has not admitted to any illegal activity; this company is Northern Ireland based construction firm FP MaCann Ltd.
Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd and CPM Group Ltd were major suppliers of Network Rail projects HS1 and Crossrail. Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd is a frequent supplier of drainage products and track to the rail industry; having worked on Manchester Metrolink, Nottingham Express Transit, Midland Metro, and other major rail projects. CPM Group supplies the rail industry with concrete drainage products, as well as its own products Red-Rock concrete and Stepsafe. However the company is now owned by Marshalls and did not work on the major Network Rail projects mentioned during the time period under speculation. Marshalls currently works on HS2.
The two companies admitted to the alleged activities as a part of the settlement process and have agreed to pay fines that are to be determined at the end of the investigation. At the end of previous cases provided as examples by the CMA as similar illegal cartel operations, fines of £3.4m and £2.6m were issued.