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Construction cartel: Cartel Court imposes fine of EUR 26.33 million on HABAU Group following AFCA’s application. The decision is final.

The Cartel Court granted the Austrian Federal Competition Authority’s application on 23 November 2022 in full (case number: 28 Kt 6/20x). It imposed a fine of EUR 26.33 million on HABAU Hoch- und Tiefbaugesellschaft m.b.H., Held & Francke Baugesellschaft m.b.H., ÖSTU-STETTIN Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH and STRAKA Bau GmbH for anti-competitive concerted practices.

Following dawn raids conducted in October 2020, the AFCA had filed an application with the Cartel Court to fine four companies from the HABAU group of companies. In September 2022, the companies acknowledged the infringement. In settlement talks with the AFCA and the Federal Cartel Prosecutor, they agreed that a fine of EUR 26.33 million would be appropriate (see AFCA’s press release of 6 September 2022).

The Cartel Court has now found that cartel law had been breached by way of “illegal price fixing, market divisions and the exchange of information with competitors in relation to public and private tenders in the sector of building construction and civil engineering in Austria during the period from at least July 2002 to October 2017.” The Cartel Court’s decision is final.

In setting the amount of the fine, the Court took into account the introduction of a comprehensive, group-wide compliance management system, additional, internal inspections prior to establishing a working group (ARGE), as well as organisational unbundling within the group. The amount of the fine was reduced owing to the consensual settlement, albeit with a significantly lower reduction than in other cases due to already pending antitrust proceedings.

For further information on the construction cartel, please refer to our FAQ Construction cartel UPDATE December section. Please niote, that the document is only available in German.