Bundeskartellamt imposes multi-million fines on manufacturers of chipboard, OSB panels and other wood-based products

Bonn, 20 September 2011: The Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines totalling approx. € 42 million on four manufacturers of chipboard, oriented strand boards and other wood-based products and on ten individuals who were involved in illegal price agreements. The companies concerned are Glunz AG, Pfleiderer AG, Kronoply GmbH and Rauch Spanplattenwerk GmbH. Egger Holzwerkstoffe Brilon GmbH & Co. KG, which also participated in the price agreements, was granted immunity from fines in accordance with the authority's leniency programme.

Andreas Mundt: "A customer of the cartel informed the Bundeskartellamt of the possible violations. For many years the companies involved agreed on the prices of their products and significantly restricted competition".

One cartel concerned raw and laminated chipboard panels, MDF and HDF panels (medium and high density fibreboard) and tongue and groove chipboard panels which were supplied to trade and industry. From early 2002 until late 2007 representatives of the companies Egger, Glunz, Pfleiderer and Rauch met to agree on price increases, price floors, individual manufacturing surcharges and in some cases customized prices. Companies participating in this cartel group were fined a total of € 32 million. Around 2005, Rauch and several other companies left the cartel group.

A second cartel concerned the OSB product group (oriented strand boards). These are wood-based boards which are mainly used in the construction sector. The agreements to raise prices for OSB boards lasted from the spring of 2004 to the autumn of 2006 and covered at least to some extent supplies to the wholesale trade. The companies Egger, Glunz and Kronopoly were involved in these agreements. The Bundeskartellamt imposed fines totalling almost € 10 million on these companies. In this case, too, the Egger group was granted full immunity from fines.

The Bundeskartellamt calculates fines based on the turnover achieved from the price agreement and takes the severity and duration of the offence into consideration. Account is also taken of the economic viability of the individual company.

Most of the companies and persons involved applied for leniency under the Bundeskartellamt's leniency programme and made confessions. Reductions in fines were made for any contribution to uncovering the illegal agreements. In addition, settlements were agreed with most of the companies, which further reduced the level of the respective fines.

The orders imposing the fines are not yet final and can be appealed against at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.