Competition Authority finds two industrial cleaning enterprises guilty of collusion

​The Competition Authority has found two industrial cleaning enterprises, Conforlimpa (Tejo) - Multiserviços SA and Number One - Multi Services Lda, guilty of collusion in the presentation of bids for 16 public invitations to tender held between February 2006 and November 2007.

The following fines, totalling EUR 316,334.08, were imposed on the enterprises:

  • Conforlimpa (Tejo) – Multiserviços SA, a fine to the amount of EUR 253,703.18;
  • Number One – Multi Services Lda, a fine to the amount of EUR 62,620.90.

The case was instigated by two complaints presented to the Competition Authority by the enterprises Iberlim-Sociedade Técnica de Limpezas SA and Refer EP, in which the complaining parties accused the enterprises mentioned above of collusion in various public invitations to tender.

As a result of these practices, according to the complaining parties, the enterprises found guilty today presented similar bids in the invitations to tender referred to, often managing to be classified one after the other. In the cases in which the awarding body had the rule of not awarding the whole of the provision of services to the same enterprise, the practices in question allowed the these enterprises, which had interests in common, to overcome this obstacle. In practice, this made the total attribution of the service possible.

In its investigation, the Competition Authority ascertained that the enterprises submitted identical bids, both in general presentation and monetary values, for the 16 invitations to tender in question. It was also demonstrated that these bids were drafted in concert, with the two enterprises exchanging sensitive information between themselves.

This behaviour created competitive conditions that did not correspond to the normal conditions on the market in question: the goal was, in this way, to distort the competition, in particular regarding its intensity in the invitations to tender in question. The enterprises derived advantage from this practice in that they were thus allowed to increase their chances of winning the tendering procedure, by altering the competitive conditions on the market in this way, to their exclusive benefit and the detriment of other competitors.

The offences involved are horizontal restrictions on purchasing procedures opened by the different awarding bodies, in relation to which the demand for independence in the conduct of commercial activity and the preparation and submission of bids is extremely high.

Taking into consideration the position that these enterprises hold on the market, the Competition Authority thus ruled that breach of Article 4 of Law No. 18/2003 of 11 June (the Competition Law) had been proven, on the grounds that they had participated in a concerted practice of which the object and effect was to prevent, distort or restrict competition to an appreciable extent.

In setting the fine in this particular case, the Competition Authority took into consideration the criteria listed in Article 44 of the Competition Law, in particular the seriousness of the offence for the maintenance of effective competition in the market and the benefits that the guilty enterprises had enjoyed as a result of the offence.

Appeals against the Competition Authority’s decisions are heard in Lisbon Commercial Court.

Lisbon, 2 June 2011