Road builders fined over price cartel

The European Commission has fined 14 Dutch civil engineering groups and oil giant Shell a total of €266.7 mln for illegal price-fixing on road building contracts.

The EC said that a number of companies, including bourse-listed BAM, Heijmans and Ballast Nedam, had been involved in a cartel between 1994 and 2002. In a statement Shell, which was fined €108 mln, admitted being present at a number of meetings between builders and bitumen suppliers.
‘We should not have been there and we regret our involvement in this affair,’ Rein Willems, president of Shell Nederland, said. Shell, which said it cooperated fully with the investigation, is considering its response. Both BAM and Heijmans said the fine would not affect earnings.
Dutch temp agencies have grown twice as fast in the first eight months of this year than they did in 2005, umbrella organisation Abu said today. Both turnover and hours worked were up an average of 20%.
Engineering group Stork is to hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting in the near future to allow two hedge funds, which want to split the company up, to air their views, Financieele Dagblad reported this morning.

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