On 14 March 2017 the Italian Competition Authority (the “ICA”) opened an in-depth investigation into several companies (namely, Babcock Mission Critical Services Italia S.p.A., Airgreen S.r.l., Elifriulia S.r.l., Star Work Sky S.a.s. and Associazione Elicotteristica Italiana, hereinafter the “Accused Companies”) all operating in the helicopter and forest firefighting services sector.
The investigation started in order to assess whether the Accused Companies executed a confidential agreement (the “Agreement”) aimed at restricting competition by influencing in an anti-competitive way the participation in public tender procedures (the “Tenders”) for the assignment of the aforementioned services supply.
In particular, the ICA alleges that the Accused Companies repeatedly participated in Tenders in the relevant sector with the same commercial strategy. This behaviour led to a lack of bids overlapping bids and a restriction of price competition. Further, the ICA held that the Accused Companies behaved in a way to share job orders among them, neutralizing the competitive mechanism typical of public tender procedures.
In light of the above, the ICA alleged that the Agreement would amount to an anti-competitive agreement, in contravention of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The investigation is ongoing.