National Competition Law Report - Q4 2007 - Switzerland

Author:Mr Silvio Venturi
Profession:Tavernier Tschanz


Competition Commission closes investigation into four Bernese construction companies

On 6 December 2007 the Competition Commission put an end to its long-running investigation into the practices of four Bernese construction operations which are renovating the Swiss National Library by discontinuing its proceedings without any finding of violation.

On 17 December 2001 the Competition Commission had in fact concluded that Betosan AG, Isotech AG (now Hela AG), Renesco AG (now Arkosol AG) and Weiss + Appetito AG had agreed upon prices in their tender offers. The Competition Commission issued a decision forbidding such practices in the future. It did not impose fines, since at the time its powers to fine were confined to situations where a company contravened a decision of the Competition Commission.

These companies appealed against this decision to the Appeal Commission (as it then was) which on 22 November 2005 partially annulled the Competition Commission's decision. The Appeal Commission sent the case back to the Competition Commission with the direction that evidence that the employer was in possession of a detailed and reliable estimate of costs. The Appeal Commission took the view that only such evidence would show that the employer had been placed in a position where there were clear price differences making that a central if not the central criterion of selection.

The Competition Commission determined that such evidence was not present although there existed other indications of price-fixing.

Competition Commission prohibits Ticino road asphalting cartel

On 19 November 2007 the Competition Commission issued a decision formally prohibiting a market-sharing cartel amongst 17 companies active in road asphalting in the Swiss canton of Ticino.

In April 2005 the Competition Commission initiated an investigation into the practices of both asphalt producers and road asphalting construction companies. The Competition Commission's investigation had shown that 17 of the 18 companies active in the road asphalting market had from 1999 until the end of 2004 participated in a system to guarantee each of them a certain percentage of the market by sharing out public tenders and private work. These companies would meet each week to decide on the apportionment of work, and would discuss prices. The cartel was discontinued prior to the grace period under amendments to the Swiss Competition Act (i.e. prior to 31 March 2005). Thus no...

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