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Firms anti-competitive in government bid

Report highlights similarity of bids

The Office of Fair Trading says two stonework companies acted anti-competitively as they tendered for a government contract.

The Department of Infrastructure asked for contractors to submit bids for work on Vicarage Road in Braddan in November 2014.

Out of three sealed bids, two attracted suspicion because they were written in the same handwriting.

Investigations later uncovered links between RGW Limited and Stone 2000, the two firms involved.

In its report, which is due to be laid before Tynwald later this month, the OFT says Treasury was correct to be suspicious over possible collusion between RGW and Stone2000

It says despite both companies denying any wrongdoing, similarities in their tenders can only be the result of transfer of pricing information, which it describes as ‘inherently anti-competitive’.

But the OFT says it’s been unable to determine the exact nature of the anticompetitive practices, which of the firms were the perpetrators or whether there were any third parties involved.

And the report concludes whatever the reason for the anti-competitive practice, it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to artificially inflate prices.

Neither firm won the contract to carry out the work.

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