Picture: BLOOMBERG/DWAYNE SENIOR
Picture: BLOOMBERG/DWAYNE SENIOR

The Competition Commission has referred wood-based panel companies Steinhoff, Kap Diversified Industrial and Sonae Arauco SA to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution for alleged cartel conduct.

The commission wants the tribunal to impose an administrative penalty of 10% of the annual turnover of Kap and Steinhoff, while Sonae has against to testify against the other companies amid a settlement deal.

Kap, then known as PG Bison, and Sonae agreed to increase their prices for wood-based panel products by the same percentage at the same time, the commission said in a statement. The parties met frequently from 2009  to at least 2016 to agree on the amount, the statement read.

The companies also agreed on the price they charged their top customers. During the period of this conduct, and at the time of the investigation, Kap was under the control of Steinhoff.

Wood-based panel products include particle boards, medium-density fibreboard, chipboards and melamine boards. These are used to build commodities such as cupboards, furniture, cabinets and caskets, among others.

Sonae has agreed to to pay a R46.9m penalty after admitting liability, and the commission is not seeking an administrative penalty.

In morning trade on Friday, Steinhoff’s share price was down 1.06% to 93c, while Kap had added 2.3% to R4.45.

Steinhoff’s share price has lost almost half its value so far in 2019, and is facing the prospect of multi-billion-rand lawsuits from aggrieved shareholders, with its share price collapsing since it said in 2017 that it had uncovered about a R10bn hole in its accounts.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za