Seven of 10 firms named say investigation will cost them close to £30m

A decision on the level of fines that will be handed out to firms at the centre of the Competition and Markets Authority’s bid-rigging probe has been delayed again.

The cartel-buster had been hoping to go public with the amounts last November but this was delayed until Christmas and then last month.

Now firms have been told a decision has been put back another four weeks with a verdict expected in early March.


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The CMA had been hoping to announce the level of fines last autumn

Last summer the CMA named 10 firms of being guilty of bid-rigging with seven of the 10 also being accused of making and receiving ‘compensation payments’. Three firms, John F Hunt, Clifford Devlin and Keltbray, were found not to have participated in making or receiving these payments.

Seven of the 10 firms have now said via their latest report and accounts that the amount they expect it to cost them will be close to £30m.

“The bids were rigged by one or more construction firms which agreed to submit bids that were deliberately priced to lose the tender [known as cover pricing],” the CMA added.

Two firms, Essex contractor Squibb Group and Erith, currently working on the demolition of 120 Fleet Street in the City of London, are contesting the provisional findings. Both have been accused of bid-rigging and making compensation payments.

One source said of the latest delay: “All we’ve been told is that a decision on the level of fines has been put back a month. We can only assume there is more negotiating going on in the background with other parties.”

Who has said what they expect the CMA probe to cost them

Careys: £9m

Keltbray: £7m

McGee: £2.4m

John F Hunt: £5.6m

Cantillon: A “maximum” of £1.9m

Brown and Mason: £2.35m

DSM: £1.6m

Clifford Devlin, Erith and Squibb have not publicly said what they expect the probe to cost each of them. The figures also include legal costs. Erith and Squibb are contesting the CMA findings

Source: All figures taken from firms’ most recently filed accounts