Two distributors of polycarbonate plastic roofing must pay penalties totaling A$5.5 million (US$4.03 million) for breaching Australia's competition laws.
The Canberra-based Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), took the two companies to the Federal Court of Australia after it discovered they made secret arrangements to buy polycarbonate roofing from a new Australian manufacturer, Oakmoore Pty. Ltd., trading as EGR Group, on condition EGR did not sell its product directly to retailers. EGR is based in Salisbury, Australia.
Polycarbonate roofing is popular in Australia for backyard pergolas because it is strong, durable and can deflect the sun. It is also used for architectural cladding, skylights, greenhouses, agriculture or livestock enclosures and as a non-corrosive building material for seaside environments. Brands include Suntuf and Solasafe.
ACCC said the two distributors, Palram Australia Pty. Ltd., owned by Israeli-based parent company Palram Industries (1990) Ltd., and Ampelite Australia Pty. Ltd., based in Dandenong South, Australia, consented to the court orders and agreed they had engaged in exclusive dealing conduct aimed at "substantially lessening competition," which contravened Australia's Competition and Consumer Act.
The deal was made after EGR started manufacturing polycarbonate in Australia in 2008 and threatened to sell it to retail outlets, competing against Palram's and Ampelite's products. ACCC said the arrangement operated from 2009 to 2013. It launched court action in 2016.
Palram was ordered to pay a A$3.5 million penalty and $250,000 towards ACCC's costs and Ampelite must pay A$2 million and $100,000 towards the regulator's costs.
ACCC action continues against EGR and its director Rodney Horwill. A trial is scheduled before the Federal Court in September.