Admits that initial OFT finding could have damaged company’s reputation

Chief executive of Kier, Paul Sheffield, has told Building that the finding that his company, and 102 others, had acted anti-competitively was now “old history”.

“It’s something that relates to history,” he said. “The industry is very different now, let’s put it behind us.”

He was speaking in the wake of his company’s successful appeal against a fine for £17.9m, which resulted in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) slashing this figure to £1.7m.

The original sum had been the highest single amount levied against any of the six construction companies that went to the CAT. The CAT ruled that the fines had been “excessive”.

“To be quite honest the whole thing has been a very frustrating process,” he said. “We’re glad that it’s been put back in perspective.”

He admitted, however, that the initial OFT finding that Kier had engaged in anti-competitive behaviour, including cover pricing, “wouldn’t have done it any good”.

But he added that his company “has a strong relationship with customers and they’ve stuck with us.”

He was uncertain as to whether the OFT would appeal the decision, commenting: “I think we’ll just have to wait and see, they’ll have an opportunity to appeal on certain grounds, but it’s got to be objective points of law rather than interpretation.”