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CMA expose rolled lead cartel

Three major UK construction suppliers have been found to be breaking completion law in a provisional finding from Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA has provisionally found that the three, who account for about 90% of UK rolled lead supplies, entered into a cartel to share the market amongst themselves through, for example, the allocation of customers.

The CMA alleges that the cartel not only colluded on prices, but exchanged commercially sensitive information, shared out customers within the market between themselves and collectively refused to supply another company whose business threatened to disrupt the market sharing arrangement.

Associated Lead Mills Ltd, its sister company Jamestown Metals Limited, HJ Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead) and Calder Industrial Materials Ltd, have been under investigation by the CMA since July 2017.

In a statement of objections, the CMA sets out its provisional findings that the three suppliers entered into this anti-competitive arrangement which broke competition law.

Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement, said: “These are the three biggest suppliers of rolled lead in the UK, between them making up about 90% of supplies. Their products are in everyday use by builders, especially for roofing of both homes and businesses across the UK.

“After a thorough investigation, the CMA has today provisionally found that these three companies colluded among themselves to share out the market. The CMA hopes that this provisional finding will send a strong reminder that companies need to follow competition laws. These are crucial to protecting customers from paying more for products than they should do.”

The CMA’s findings are, at this stage in its investigation, provisional and do not necessarily lead to a decision that the companies have breached competition law. The firms now have the opportunity to consider the detail of the CMA’s provisional findings and respond to it. The CMA will carefully consider any representations made before issuing its final findings as to whether the law has been broken.

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