Commission probes price-fixing in steel industry

The Competition Commission is investigating alleged price-fixing and collusion in the steel industry, it said on Monday.

This comes after concerns were raised about the industry’s pricing practices by various interested parties, said Thulani Kunene, head of the commission’s enforcement and exemptions division.

The commission received a complaint from a member of the public alleging that Mittal South Africa and Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation adjusted their prices for flat and long steel products at about the same time and with similar percentage increases.

Kunene said it was well known in the steel industry that Highveld followed Mittal in its pricing.
Although this did not imply collusion, it was “suggestive of collaboration” between the two.

“Of concern is that the observed lack of transparency in price-setting in the steel industry has a major impact on downstream [building and construction] activities. This is because steel products are intermediate goods and a major contributor to the input costs of various sectors,” he said.

On Thursday the commission raided the premises of steel companies Cape Town Iron and Steel Works and Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation. It also pounced on the premises of the South African Iron and Steel Institute, an association of steel manufacturers based in Pretoria.

Cape Town Iron and Steel Works is a scrap mill based in Cape Town and a wholly owned subsidiary of Murray & Roberts. Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation is based in Witbank and manufactures various flat and long steel products.—Sapa

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