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Brussels, 5th February 2009

Antitrust: Commission confirms sending Statement of Objections to alleged participants in prestressing steel cartel

The European Commission can confirm that it sent in October 2008 a Statement of Objections to a number of companies active in the supply of prestressing steel, concerning their alleged participation in a cartel in violation of EU rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area). The products under investigation are mainly used in the construction industry. All the companies concerned have now replied to the Statement of Objections and the Commission is in the process of considering their replies.

Prestressing steel consists of metal wires and strands made of wire rod. Prestressing steel is used in both prestressed concrete and post-tensioned concrete. Prestressed concrete is cast around already tensioned wire or strands and is generally prefabricated in a factory. It is used for smaller constructions such as balconies, foundation piles and pipes. For post-tensioned concrete, the steel is only tensioned after the concrete is poured, e.g. in structural engineering, underground engineering and bridge building.

Procedural background

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case.

The Commission may then take a decision on whether the conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EC Treaty's antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.

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