On December 28, 2021 and January 21, 2022, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) imposed fines totaling €7.3 million on Maurer SE (“Maurer”) and Mageba GmbH, Göttingen (“Mageba”) for bid rigging and market allocation.[1]

Maurer and Mageba are Germany’s only manufacturers of modular expansion joints used for road bridges, which allow bridges to expand and contract as the temperature fluctuates.  From 2004 until 2019, Maurer and Mageba engaged in a highly organized quota cartel to retain their respective market shares.

The FCO found that in October 2004, representatives of the relevant companies[2] agreed to fix quotas according to their current market shares and thereby divided the market for the supply of modular expansion joints used for road bridges amongst themselves.  Until January 2019, representatives of the companies involved constantly monitored and enforced compliance with these quotas through regular meetings and phone calls.  In case of substantial deviation from the fixed quotas at the end of a given year, the cartel members held a “year-end meeting” to allocate future tenders as compensation or to adjust their quotas for the following year.  To implement the quota agreement, the cartel members further agreed to a uniform pricing formula and coordinated their offers as subcontractors vis à vis construction companies bidding as general contractors on public tenders put out by municipalities, federal states or the federal government.[3]

The FCO and the Braunschweig public prosecution office carried out joint dawn raids at several premises and private properties in January 2019.  While Maurer and Mageba cooperated during the investigation and settled the case with the FCO, the proceeding initiated by the Braunschweig public prosecution office against certain sales representatives for “submission fraud” is still ongoing.

Editors: Katharina Apel and Anna Lubberger

[1]              Case B11-22/17.  The FCO’s Press Release of February 10, 2022 is available in English here; the FCO’s Case Summary of February 10, 2022 is only available in German here.

[2]              These included at the time Maurer, RW Sollinger Hütte GmbH and a German subsidiary of the Swiss Mageba Group based in Uslar.  In 2014, the Swiss Mageba Group acquired RW Sollinger Hütte GmbH and renamed it to Mageba, into which it merged its Uslar subsidiary.

[3]              In some instances, the manufacturers of modular extension joints also participated directly in tenders put out by public-sector corporations.