On Tat Estate renovator cartel guilty of price-fixing

Local | 17 May 2019 5:30 pm

For the first time after Hong Kong enacted a new law to punish price fixing, a tribunal has found 14 companies guilty of breaching the Competition Ordinance, RTHK reports.
The Competition Tribunal found 10 renovation companies had fixed prices for projects at a public housing estate. Also, four technology companies were found guilty of trying to rig a tender. 
These are the first two cases that the Competition Commission had brought before the tribunal after the ordinance came into effect four years ago. 
The renovation companies were found guilty of working together in 2016 to fix prices for repair work at the newly-built On Tat Estate in Kwun Tong. 
The tribunal earlier heard that the contractors had decided among themselves to divide the work, so that each firm will get four floors in every block. They had also agreed not to accept, or seek business from tenants on other floors. 
Their pricing arrangements were also identical. 
In handing down judgement, the tribunal concluded that their action had prevented, restricted and distorted competition in Hong Kong and constituted serious anti-competitive conduct. 
In a separate case, four technology companies were found guilty of bid-rigging in a tendering process by the Young Women’s Christian Association in 2016. 
The case involves a tender by the YWCA for the installation of a new server system based on technology by Nutanix Limited.
While Nutanix's service partner BT had submitted a bid in the first tender, the procedure fell through due to insufficient bids. 
During the next tender exercise the following month, Nutanix and BT arranged for four partners to submit non-genuine, dummy bids. Three of them did so in the end. 
The tribunal said that amounted to bid-rigging which was a clear violation of the Competition Ordinance. 
Further hearings will be held to determine the penalties for the various companies, as well as other cost-related issues. 
The chairwoman of the Competition Commission, Anna Wu, welcomed the decisions. She said this had protected commercial interests as well as the public.-


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