On 18 January 2010, the French Competition Authority (the
'Authority') issued a decision fining four companies for
anticompetitive practices in the context of procurement contracts
relating to painting services for naval equipment and engineering
The four companies were sanctioned for: (i) exchanging
information on prices and (ii) submitting 'sham bids' aimed
at giving the impression of a genuine competition.
In the context of tendering procedures, the Authority considers
that the value of the sales generated by the infringement is not
relevant to set the fine, and that the basic amount of the fine
shall be determined based on the gravity of the infringement, the
economic harm caused thereby and the relevant circumstances.
As regards the gravity of the infringement, in the present case
the Authority pointed out the fact that some of the companies
participated in several tendering procedures each year and had
leading positions on the market. As regards the importance of the
economic harm, the Authority underlined the fact that the tenderers
were deprived of the benefits of a genuine competition between the
The Authority finally decreased the final amount of the fine for
three of the four companies as they agreed to settle and gave
several undertakings. The Authority also considered the
financial difficulties of one of the companies to lower its
This decision is a good illustration of the method followed by
the Authority to set the fines in the context of tendering
procedures, and follows the provisions of its new draft antitrust
fining guidelines published on 17 January 2011 (see Community Week
To view Community Week, Issue 511; 4th March 2011 in
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