NMa Suspects Eight Construction Companies of Cartel in the Schiphol Area
The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) suspects eight construction companies of entering into cartel agreements in relation to large infrastructural works in the region of Haarlemmermeer, including Schiphol Airport. A report on this reasonable suspicion of an infringement of the Competition Act has been drawn up. NMa suspects the eight companies of consultations with regard to the division of assignments amongst themselves. The eight companies also referred to themselves in this regard as the 'North-Holland Eight' or the 'Schiphol Eight'.
The eight companies are: Ballast Nedam Infra Noord West B.V., Hollandsche Wegenbouw Zanen B.V. (whose road construction activities were incorporated into HBG Civiel B.V. 2000), Vermeer Infrastructuur B.V., Koninklijke Wegenbouw Stevin B.V., NBM Noord-West B.V., Wegenbouwmaatschappij J.Heijmans B.V., Koop Tjuchem B.V. and Ooms Avenhorn B.V.
NMa's suspicion relates to the period from the beginning of 1998 up to and including 2000 and involves 15 large infrastructural projects. NMa also has evidence that the eight companies wished to ensure that other companies would not submit lower tenders in relation to other works and, by doing so, would upset the agreements that had been made. Through this coordination of activities, customers were not able to benefit from prices determined on the basis of competition between the parties. The coordination of the parties behaviour in relation to the submission of tenders is considered to be a very grave infringement of the Competition Act.
NMa commenced its investigation in January 2002 and bases itself, for instance, on data from the parallel accounts of the company, Koop Tjuchem, and material found during company visits in April and September 2002.
The companies may now respond to the report. After this, NMa will take a final decision on whether an infringement has been committed and, if so, whether NMa will impose a fine.
A special team at NMa is carrying out an investigation into the creation of cartels in the construction sector. In 2002, NMa drew up reports on prohibited agreements in the construction sector in five cases.