The UK Competition Authority recognizes that merging construction companies might be heavily affected by COVID-19 pandemic, but still requires them to address competition concerns before clearing the merger (Kingspan / Building Solutions)

Construction products merger raises competition concerns*

The CMA has found that Kingspan’s anticipated purchase of Building Solutions raises competition concerns in the supply of specialist insulation panels.

Kingspan is the leading provider in the UK of standard foam sandwich panels, which are commonly used as insulated cladding on commercial and industrial buildings such as large waste facilities. Kingspan already owns a number of businesses that supply these products in the UK, including Joris Ide. Building Solutions also sells a range of insulation and specialist construction products through a variety of businesses, including Steadmans, Trimform, Advanced Cladding and United Roofing Products.

Kingspan and Building Solutions are 2 of only 3 key suppliers of standard foam sandwich panels in the UK and would only face serious competition from one other UK-based supplier – Tata Steel – after the deal. Competition from suppliers of products imported from outside the UK and suppliers of other products sometimes used as insulated cladding is also very limited.

The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Phase 1 investigation therefore found that the deal could leave the merging companies’ customers, typically building contractors, with few alternative suppliers to choose from.

Colin Raftery, CMA Senior Director said:

  • "Foam sandwich panels are widely used in non-residential buildings across the UK, such as supermarket distribution centres, hospitals and police stations. Sales of foam sandwich panels in the UK amounted to about £200 million last year, so they account for an important part of the construction costs faced by businesses and public bodies."
  • "Kingspan is by far the largest player in this market and this deal would involve it buying up one of its only two meaningful competitors. So, we’re concerned that the deal could damage competition, resulting in higher prices or lower quality products."

While the CMA is conscious that the construction sector is expected to be heavily impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and see a considerable slowdown of activity in the near term, these two suppliers are expected to remain important competitors in the longer-term.

Kingspan and Building Solutions must now address the CMA’s concerns within 5 working days. If they are unable to do so, the deal will be referred for an in-depth Phase 2 investigation.

*This is the original title of the press release. The title above has been amended in order to match the e-Competitions format. Individual authors are welcome to provide original independent commentaries on the case law. Articles are subject to approval by the Board of e-Competitions Bulletin before publication based on the Editorial Policy (click here).

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  • United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)

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UK Competition Authority, The UK Competition Authority recognizes that merging construction companies might be heavily affected by COVID-19 pandemic, but still requires them to address competition concerns before clearing the merger (Kingspan / Building Solutions), 7 April 2020, e-Competitions UK & Covid-19, Art. N° 94192

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