Madrid -- Inspectors from the Investigations Division of Spain's antitrust authority, the Comisión Nacional de la Competencia (CNC), have conducted inspections in various companies that produce and market elastomeric and polyurethane foam insulation.
A CNC statement said the raids, on 25 Jan, were to investigate "suspicion of possible anticompetitive practices consisting of agreements to fix prices, partition markets and engage in concerted actions in relation to application of certain technical standards and to product quality, in violation of the Spanish Competition Act."
The inspections are a preliminary step in the investigation of the possible anti-competitive conduct, said CNC. If credible signs of infringement are found, formal proceedings will be brought, the organisation added.
The commission notes that its inspection powers have been strengthened in the new Competition Act, to aid the fight against cartels.
Another new aspect is a leniency programme, whereby a company involved in a cartel that provides the CNC with evidence of the existence of the cartel may qualify for or reduction in the amount of the fine it may have to pay. CNC did not specify if any companies in the present foam case are part of a leniency programme.
Flexible foamers across Europe and the US were raided last year by the relevant antitrust bodies in cases investigating allegations of price fixing across the sector. These cases are continuing, while foam customers across the US have instigated class-action lawsuits against large groups of foamers involved in the price-fixing allegations.