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National Competition Commission imposes fines of 44 million euros on 15 companies in the paper envelopes cartel

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National Competition Commission imposes fines of 44 million euros on 15 companies in the paper envelopes cartel

March 31, 2013 - 20:00

MADRID, Spain, April 1, 2013 (Press Release) - On 15 March 2011 the Investigations Division of the CNC opened formal proceedings (S/0316/10) against ANDALUZA DE PAPEL, S.A., ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L., ARGANSOBRE, S.A., COPIDATA, S.A., EMILIO DOMENECH MIRABET, S.A., ENVEL EUROPA, S.A., GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRESS, S.A., HISPAPEL, S.A., MAESPA MANIPULADOS, S.L., MANIPULADOS PLANA, S.A., MANIPULADOS CEGAMA, S. COOP, PAPELERA DEL CARRION, S.L., RODON PORTA, S.A., SOBRE INDUSTRIAL, S.L., SOBRES IZALBE, S.A. , SOCIEDAD ANONIMA DE TALLERES DE MANIPULACION DE PAPEL and UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A. for possible anti-competitive practices, consisting of the fixing of prices and the sharing out of the market, through the sharing out of contracts and/or the sharing out of customers, together with a limit on technical development, in the market for the manufacture, distribution and marketing of paper envelopes in national territory. Before it opened the proceedings the Investigations Division of the CNC had carried out inspections in some of these companies.

On 11 May 2012 the Investigations Division of the CNC extended the formal proceedings to include the companies HOLDHAM, S.A., ANTALIS INTERNATIONAL, S.A.S., MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. and UNIPAPEL, S.A. (now ADVEO GROUP INTERNATIONAL, S.A.) as a result of their participation in the presumed anti-competitive practices referred to above.The market analysed is the market corresponding to the manufacture, distribution and marketing of paper envelopes in the Spanish market, distinguishing between pre-printed or special envelopes, envelopes which according to the customer's specifications are of a non-standard size, weight or structure, and normal blank catalogue or stock envelopes.

In its Resolution of 25 March 2013, the CNC Council has taken the view that there is proof that the companies against which the proceedings were opened took part in a cartel to share out the Spanish paper envelopes market amongst themselves between the years 1977 and 2010, including the adoption of:

  • Agreements for the fixing of prices and the sharing out of the market through the tenders for the envelopes used for elections called by the central government and various regional administrations between 1977 and 2010, including the sharing out of production of electoral envelopes for the mailshots delivered by the political parties.
  • Agreements for the sharing out of the market for pre-printed envelopes through the sharing out of up to 223 large national customers, both public and private, between 1990 and 2010.
  • Agreements for the fixing of prices and the sharing out of customers for blank envelopes between 1994 and 2010.
  • An agreement to limit technical development in the paper envelope market through the formation of a technological consortium that gave rise to the constitution in 1997 of the company COVER FORMAS, S.L. in order to share the technological innovations generated between the companies in the cartel and to licence them only to the companies in the cartel.

The cartel originated in 1977, coinciding with the calling of the first democratic elections in Spain, with an agreement to share out the manufacture and supply of the electoral envelopes between ANDALUZA DE PAPEL, S.A., ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L., EMILIO DOMENECH MIRABET, S.A., ENVEL EUROPA, S.A, GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L., HISPAPEL, S.A., MAESPA MANIPULADOS, S.L., MANIPULADOS CEGAMA S. COOP., MANIPULADOS PLANA, S.A., PACSA, PAPELERA DEL CARRION, S.L., RODON, SOBRE INDUSTRIAL, S.L., SOBRES IZALBE, S.A., SOCIEDAD ANÓNIMA DE TALLERES DE MANIPULACIÓN DE PAPEL and UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A. That agreement to share the market made between the aforementioned companies was repeated in the subsequent tenders for envelopes on the occasion of the new electoral processes called for the general elections in 1982 and remained in place for the subsequent elections in 1986, 1989, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008; for the municipal elections in 1983, 1987, 1991, 1999, 2003 and 2007; for the elections to the European Parliament in 1987, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009; for the Autonomous Community elections in 1987, 1991 and 1999 and the respective elections for the Autonomous Communities of Andalucía (1982, 1986 and 1996), País Vasco (1984 and 1990), Galicia (1985 and 2001), Cataluña (1988, 1999, 2003, 2006 and 2010) and Madrid (2003), together with the referenda on NATO in 1986 and the European Constitution in 2005; in other words for practically all of the tenders for envelopes for elections held in Spain from 1997 to 2010.

In addition, from 1995 to 2010 GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L. and UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A. also shared out the production of electoral envelopes for the mailshots delivered by the political parties.

Along with sharing out the public tenders for electoral envelopes from 1990 until 2010, the cartel members ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L., ARGANSOBRE, S.A., ENVEL EUROPA, S.A., GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L., MAESPA MANIPULADOS, S.L., MANIPULADOS PLANA, S.A., PACSA, PAPELERA DEL CARRION, S.L., SOCIEDAD ANÓNIMA DE TALLERES DE MANIPULACIÓN DE PAPEL, SERBOS 2000, S.L., SOBRE INDUSTRIAL, S.L. and UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A. also shared out up to 223 large customers, both public (including the State Tax Agency [Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria], the General Social Security Treasury [Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social], the Directorate General for Traffic [Dirección General de Tráfico], the Directorate General for the Police [Dirección General de la Policía] and practically all of the Ministries) and private (financial institutions, electricity companies, telecommunications companies, etc) and the manufacture of their pre-printed corporate envelopes. There is proof on the case file that these sharing arrangements occurred throughout national territory.

From the mid-1990s the manufacturers in the cartel, ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L., GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L., SOCIEDAD ANÓNIMA DE TALLERES DE MANIPULACIÓN DE PAPEL and UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A., extended their agreements to the manufacture and marketing of blank or stock envelopes and to the limitation of the technological development in the Spanish market of the paper envelope by ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L., GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L., MANIPULADOS PLANA, S.A., PACSA, PAPELERA DEL CARRION, S.L., SOCIEDAD ANÓNIMA DE TALLERES DE MANIPULACIÓN DE PAPEL (SAM) and UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A.

In short, the companies mentioned are responsible for a practice that breaches the Spanish Competition Act due to the fact that between 1977 and 2010 they agreed to fix prices and share out the tenders for pre-printed envelopes for the elections and for the political parties, to share out the manufacture of pre-printed corporate envelopes for large customers, to fix prices for blank envelopes and to limit technological development in the paper envelope market throughout national territory.

For all of these reasons the CNC Council has resolved to impose the following fines on the companies as the perpetrators of the breaches:

  • €166,779 on ANDALUZA DE PAPEL, S.A.
  • €7,826,650 on ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L. and jointly and severally on its parent company ANTALIS INTERNATIONAL, S.A.S.
  • €329,944 on ARGANSOBRE, S.A.
  • €113,107 on EMILIO DOMENECH MIRABET, S.A.
  • €655,107 on ENVEL EUROPA, S.A., for which its former parent company until September 2010, HOLGHAM, is jointly and severally liable for an amount of up to €637,464.
  • €11,262.752 on GRUPO TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L. (now called TOMPLA SOBRE EXPRÉS, S.L.) and jointly and severally on its parent company MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA. S.A. (now called PRINTEOS, S.A.).
  • €788,380 on HISPAPEL, S.A. and jointly and severally on its parent company MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. (now called PRINTEOS, S.A.).
  • €5,096 on MAESPA MANIPULADOS, S.L. and jointly and severally on its parent company MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. (now called PRINTEOS, S.A.).
  • €33,901 on PACSA, PAPELERA DEL CARRION, S.L. and jointly and severally on its parent company MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. (now called PRINTEOS, S.A.).
  • €5,192 on MAESPA MANIPULADOS, S.L., in its capacity as successor to RODON PORTA, S.L., and jointly and severally on its parent company MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. (now called PRINTEOS, S.A.).
  • €2,392.580 on SOCIEDAD ANÓNIMA DE TALLERES DE MANIPULACIÓN DE PAPEL (SAM) and jointly and severally on its parent company MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. (now called PRINTEOS, S.A.).
  • €356,342 on MANIPULADOS PLANA, S.A.
  • €95,665 on SOBRE INDUSTRIAL, S.L.
  • €51,818 on SOBRES IZALBE, S.A.
  • €20,498.246 on UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A. and jointly and severally on its parent company UNIPAPEL, S.A. (now called ADVEO GROUP INTERNATIONAL).

It must also be pointed out that in addition to the above companies which have been fined, and according to the information on the case file, there is proof of the participation of a further 16 companies and the sector association in the cartel, but formal proceedings were not opened against them because the time for doing so had expired in accordance with article 68 of the Spanish Competition Act.

On the other hand, and applying the leniency programme, ADVEO GROUP INTERNATIONAL, S.A. and its subsidiary UNIPAPEL TRANSFORMACIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN, S.A. are excused from payment of the fine that the CNC Council could have imposed on the group because they made an application for exemption from payment of the fine that allowed the CNC to order the inspections carried out on 19 October 2010. In addition, due to the fact that they subsequently provided information with significant added value, a reduction in the amount of their fines is applied to the following companies:

  • ANTALIS ENVELOPES MANUFACTURING, S.L. and its parent company ANTALIS INTERNATIONAL, S.A.S., a reduction of 40%.
  • MANUFACTURAS TOMPLA, S.A. and its subsidiaries in the TOMPLA group, a reduction of 30%.