ATAL has $150m fine for anti-competitive behavior

ATAL(1977), a listed company chaired by husband of ex-justice secretary Teresa Cheng Otto Poon, was suited by the Competition Commission (the Commission) that ATAL violated the Competition Ordinance with Shun Hing Group by price fixing and bid rigging. Today (4 Nov), the Commission announced that the ATAL subsidiary admitted the case and pay the fine HK$ 150m, as well as the investigation and legal cost of the Commission.

Related reading: Know more about Competition Ordinance for funding

Price fixing against Competition Ordinance

According to the Commission’s case, there were multiple price fixing and bid rigging between Shun Hing and ATAL during air-conditioning contract competition in 2015 – 2019, which was against the First Conduct Rule of the Competition Ordinance. The total contract value was around HK$ 2 billion. The 2 firms disclosed sensitive information to each other during procurement, such as tendering price, accomplishment date etc. They also provide cover bid (a.k.a. “Pig quote”) in order to share the market.

Both Tiger and Fly are target

This case is concerned due to several points: 1. Both companies are big, and ATAL is even a listed company. 2. Bid rigging is common in engineering, while the case was prolonged and involved huge amount. 3. accused is related to government seniors. Teresa Cheng, the wife of Otto Poon, was then Justice Secretary during the offense. Therefore the case was highlighted by media and its fine is also a record high.

This is an alert to those which commit bid rigging and price fixing.

There were many companies against the First Conduct Rule when they bidded for government projects or applied for government funding, and rarely anyone was sued. The Commission was even regarded as “Paper tiger” in the past.1 However, the ATAL case showed the determination of the Commission to tackle the “Big tiger”. A Chinese official quote said, “cracking down on both tigers and flies”, it means the Central Government determined to tackle corruption no matter it is big or small. It could be also the battle spirit of the Commission.

TVP application legally

BizMagnet consultants always reminds of legal TVP application. During procurement, bidding IT suppliers should not disclose sensitive information to each others. If it happens, offenders can no longer be a TVP supplier. Applicant if colluded will also be blacklisted for all government fundings.

Don’t listen to misconducted agency and you can find BizMagnet to help.

Case: CTEA2/2022

  1. “Toothless tiger slammed”, the Standard,