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AFCA files application to impose fine on submetering provider

In the course of its investigations into the submetering industry, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) filed its first application with the Cartel Court on 8. February 2022 to fine one of the investigated companies, ista Österreich GmbH (ista), on account of ista having infringed Article 101(1) TFEU and § 1 para. 1 of the Austrian Cartel Act.

In July 2019, the AFCA conducted dawn raids at several companies engaged in the submetering industry. Meetings of an industry association had allegedly been used to discuss and agree market parameters. AFCA’s investigations confirmed the anti-competitive conduct in the submetering market in Austria, which occurred, to varying degree, during the period from July 2004 to February 2019. The AFCA therefore applied for the imposition of a fine of EUR 2.2 million.

Submetering refers to the individual measuring and billing of costs for heating and hot and cold water in buildings for private or commercial use (residential buildings, office buildings etc.) including the provision of the requisite meters, i.e. heat cost allocators, hot and cold water meters, and heat meters.

ista made an application for leniency a few days after the dawn raid, subsequently cooperating fully with the AFCA to clarify the facts of the case. The proceedings could therefore be brought to a speedy conclusion. Owing to ista’s full cooperation in the leniency programme, the AFCA applied to the Cartel Court for a reduced fine.

In addition, as part of its cooperation with the AFCA, and with the involvement of the Federal Cartel Prosecutor, ista has acknowledged the infringement for use in proceedings before the Cartel Court. The AFCA has therefore applied for a reduction in the fine.

The AFCA will file further applications on other involved companies in the near future.