SA targets colluding World Cup builders

Johannesburg - The government is putting pressure on construction companies to make further payments as punishment for rigging contracts to build stadiums for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and other projects.

Antitrust authorities fined 15 builders, including Murray & Roberts Holdings and Aveng, a total of 1.5 billion rand in June 2013, after a probe that spanned almost four years found they colluded to drive up prices.

The Cape Town stadium. Photo: Sam Clark. Credit: Independent Newspapers

“The 1.5 billion rand in penalties is not the end of the story with the construction industry,” Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel told lawmakers in Cape Town today.

“We are now in discussion with the construction industry on a restitution package for their collusion and price fixing.”

The Competition Commission probe found that companies held meetings to rig profit margins on the construction of six stadiums ahead of the soccer tournament.

Murray & Roberts, South Africa’s biggest listed builder, and competitors met twice and agreed to exchange cover prices, allocate tenders and aim for a 17.5 percent margin, according to documents on the competition tribunal’s website.

The papers also detailed collusion on projects ranging from roads to offices.

Murray & Roberts was fined 309 million rand, Aveng 307 million rand, Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcom 311 million rand and Stefanutti Stocks 307 million rand.

Patel didn’t specify which companies are being targeted to make additional payments or how much the government expected to raise. - Bloomberg News