On April 17, 2019, the ICA found that 19 undertakings allegedly participated in a cartel that affected the outcome of the so-called “Facility Management 4” tender procedure, the biggest European public tender for the provision of cleaning and maintenance services for public offices ever to be launched in Italy (by Consip, the central purchasing agency owned by the Ministry for Economy and Finance).[1] The said tender was divided in 18 geographical lots and had a total value of approximately €2.7 billion.

During the investigation, the ICA cooperated with public prosecutors, who were investigating the same conduct in connection with criminal proceedings in Milan and Rome, and relied on a leniency application submitted by one of the undertakings.

The ICA found that the four main market players led as many distinct temporary associations of undertakings – so-called ATIs[2] – that exchanged information about the bidding strategy in meetings, and through subcontracting and consortia. This exchanges were part of a concerted practice by which the ATIs submitted bids that never overlapped, according to a “chessboard” pattern.[3]

The ICA concluded that the infringement constituted a hardcore restriction of competition under Article 101 TFEU, and ICA issued fines against the investigated companies of approx. €235 million in total. The leniency applicant benefited from a 50% reduction in its fine.

[1]              Gara Consip FM4 (Case I808), ICA Decision of May 17, 2019.

[2]              Associazioni Temporanee di Imprese.

[3]              The ICA found overlapping bids in only two cases. However, those overlaps were intentionally made to simulate competitive behaviour.