The scandal of a concrete monopoly…

In its decision of March 12, relating to the provisioning and the distribution of the concrete in Corsica, the Council of competition estimates that Lafarge, Vicat and the Trade union of the trader-distributors got along, “by the means of a draft-agreement” which restricted “artificially competition” in the island. And barred the access to the market to the Greek and Italian competitors “whose prices were on average 20% inferiors”. That is to say a damage for the local economy evaluated with 2, 25 million euros per annum.June 6, 2000, the Minister for the Economy, Finances and Industry seized the Council of the competition of “practices implemented in the sector of the provisioning and the distribution of Corsica cement”. More than six years passed and well of the concrete, at a price defying any competition, has (be) cast… That says if one judges some by the hundred pages which constitute the entirety of the conclusions and the decision taken by the Council of competition, this one was not really unemployed. Its decision, made public this 12 March, sanctions two French cement producers, Lafarge and Vicat, “to have gotten along with their principal distributors in Corsica, with an aim of reserving the provisioning of the island and of blocking the imports of cement coming from Greece and Italy in particular”.There are not indeed cement factories in Corsica, which implies that all cement which is distributed there, and the major part is produced in the areas of Marseilles and Nice, there is conveyed by sea. The Council sanctioned two agreements which organized “the exclusive provisioning of the island of cements Lafarge and Vicat, preventing the competitors, in particular Greek and Italian, to develop on the market”. What was not without having heavy consequences on the insular economy. Thus, the Council estimated that Lafarge, Vicat and the Trade union of the building material trader-distributors “got along by the means of a draft-agreement” on May 6, 1999, which provided that the members of the Trade union would supply themselves “out of Lafarge cement and Vicat essentially of their needs, and this, during at least four years”. However, this protocol, renewed tacitly, “artificially restricted competition on the market of the supply cement and barred the access to these markets with the Greek and Italian competitors, whose prices were, on average, 20 % lower”.In its collimator also, the signature, in November 1994, of a convention of subdelegation by which the two cement-manufacturers granted for thirty years a GIE gathering High-Corsican the traders-ditributeurs, an exclusiveness in exploitation of the infrastructures of storage and cement bagging of the wearing of Bastia. The Council considered that it was “constitutive of an agreement”. Because it indeed protected “the members from the GIE of competition and held for Lafarge and to Vicat the exclusiveness in their supply cement, leading so that the prices of cement are very high in High-Corsican”. The Council notes that “starting from the orders of magnitude of the price differences, the assumption that a not distorted competition should have brought back the prices of Lafarge and Vicat, at most, on the level of imported cements, would lead to an illicit supplement of price of 20 % in Corsican-of-South and 50 % in High-Corsican. Under these conditions, to suppose that the illicit supplement of price, for whole Corsica, was at least 25 % is an assumption minimalist “. This illicit supplement would be established thus to 2, 25 million euros per annum. Also sanctioned “a practice of handing-over rewarding the traders who did not buy cements of importation as well as a particular agreement between two traders”.Certain commissions allowed by Lafarge and Vicat to the members of the trade union and the GIE, per periods between 1997 and 1999 were regarded as “anticoncurrentielles, because they were allotted under the only condition which the profit trader imported into Corsica of other cements only those of Lafarge and Vicat”. And two traders of Ajaccio who had coordinated their prices were condemned. The Council thus imposed sanctions which it considers proportioned “by holding account of the gravity of the behaviors in question and of the importance of the damage caused with the economy of the island” the addition presented by the Council rises with a total of 25 million euros. Including 17 million against Lafarge, 8 million for Vicat, 150 000 euros for the company Gdimat Anchetti, 70 000 euros at the company Simat Simongiovani, 15 000 euros with the Logistic GIE Grouping Cements High-Corsican and as much for the Trade union of the building material traders. Which have all the possibility of bringing an action to the Court of Appeal of Paris.

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