By: Megan van Wyngaardt
Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online
Construction materials provider Corobrik believes its agreements with other brick manufacturing companies are legitimate and defensible in terms of the Competition Act.
The Competition Commission on Wednesday said that an investigation launched in April against Corobrik, Era Bricks, Eston, Brickand Tile, De Hoop Brickfields, Clay Industry and Kopano Brickworks had found the companies to be in contravention of the Competition Act by allegedly engaging in price-fixing and the division of markets in the manufacture and supply of bricks, pavers and blocks of clay and concrete.
Corobrik is alleged to have entered into separate bilateral agreements with each of the other companies in terms of which they agreed to divide the market by allocating specific products and customers.
However, Corobrik MD Dirk Meyer on Thursday said the commission’s concerns were attributable to a misunderstanding of the commercial arrangements in question and the market generally.
“We regard the allegations in the commission’s referral very seriously and were most surprised to learn that the commission believes these agreements generate competition law concerns,” he added.
“Notably, the referral to the Competition Tribunal does not constitute a finding against Corobrik. It is simply a reflection of the commission’s views based on its understanding of the agreements.”
“The question of whether or not the conduct actually amounts to a contravention of the Competition Act remains to be adjudicated by the tribunal,” Meyer added.
He said the company looked forward to clearing its name and was confident that a thorough ventilation of the relevant facts and circumstances before the tribunal would “set the record straight”.