Acsa fined R2m for failed attempt at price-fixing

2015-03-29 17:00

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Acsa fixed parking prices at OR Tambo, Gautrain

South Africa’s competition authorities are uncovering collusion and anticompetitive practices at an alarming rate. The latest case sees a South African parastatal being penalised for attempted price-fixing.

Airports Company SA (Acsa) appeared before the Competition Tribunal this week and admitted to being involved in the proposed fixing of prices charged for parking bays supplied to car hire companies.

Acsa has agreed to settle the case with the Competition Commission and pay a fine of slightly less than R2?million.

The consent-order agreement, which details the settlement between the commission and Acsa, states that the commission began its investigation into the matter on July 10 2012.

The investigation focused on the supply of parking bays to car hire companies at OR Tambo International Airport and the Sandton Gautrain station.

The companies involved in the investigation were Acsa and Bombela.

Acsa owns and operates South Africa’s nine largest airports and is majority owned by government.

Bombela is the consortium that built the Gautrain system and consists of shareholders Bombardier Transportation UK, Bouygues Travaux Publics, Murray & Roberts, J&J Group and empowerment company SPG Concessions.

The consent-order agreement states the investigation uncovered that there had been attempted price-fixing between the two companies.

“In terms of the arrangement, Bombela requested Acsa to provide it with rates that Acsa charges car hire companies at OR Tambo International Airport for Bombela not to undercut the rates Acsa charges car hire companies for parking bays at the airport,” reads the consent-order agreement. “On the basis of this understanding, Acsa supplied Bombela with the rates as requested.”

The commission said the price-fixing agreement was never acted on because Bombela never entered the market, but it suspected this decision was made because of the commission’s investigation.

According to the commission, Bombela applied for corporate leniency, which had been provisionally granted, provided it helped to prosecute Acsa.

Responding to City Press this week, Acsa spokesperson Unathi Batyashe-Fillis said “a former employee” of Acsa was found to have shared sensitive information about car hire parking bays with the Bombela Concession Company.

Batyashe-Fillis said the employee, who left the company in 2012, did not have authority or permission to discuss such information with Bombela and Acsa derived no financial or undue benefit from the actions of the employee.

The Bombela Concession Company confirmed it had cooperated fully with the commission.

“Bombela further confirms no rental car parking bays currently exist or have ever existed within the system, and that the Gautrain is not in competition with Acsa or anyone else regarding the provision of rental car parking bays,” it said.

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