Following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), two UK-based companies that supply groundworks products to some of the UK’s largest construction firms, Vp plc and M.G.F. (Trench Construction Systems) Ltd, have been fined more than $15.2 million and $5 million, respectively.

The CMA found that the companies colluded illegally to reduce competition and maintain or increase prices. This involved sharing confidential information on future pricing and commercial strategy. They also coordinated their commercial activities to reduce uncertainty, including monitoring each other’s prices and challenging quotes they deemed too low.

The CMA has found that illegal collusion between Vp and M.G.F. lasted for periods totaling nearly two years, and a third groundworks company, Mabey Hire Ltd, took part for a single period of five months. Mabey has not been fined as it brought the illegal activity to the CMA’s attention and fully cooperated with the investigation, under the CMA’s Leniency Programme.

Groundworks products are used to protect excavations—such as those made for building foundations or for laying pipes—from collapse and are crucial for safe construction work.