OFT closes civil investigation into suspected cartel behaviour by CV manufacturers

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has closed its civil investigation into suspected cartel behaviour among commercial vehicle manufacturers in the UK and handed the matter over to the European Commission as part of its wider investigation into the European truck industry.

The OFT investigation, launched in September 2010, involved approaches to all the major UK truck manufacturers and hit the headlines with a raid the same month on the Milton Keynes offices of Mercedes-Benz UK and the arrest of Ian Jones, then managing director of the firm's commercial vehicles division. Jones was later released without charge.

The OFT, which also closed a separate criminal investigation into suspected cartel activity in December 2011, says the civil investigation has been dropped "on the grounds of administrative priority" and that it "has not reached any view as to whether or not the parties involved have breached competition law".

Stobart Group offers £12.4m for Autologic

Stobart Group has made an offer of £12.4m, or 20p per share, for Autologic in a deal that would see it become the largest car-transporter haulier in the UK.

Both parties have been in talks since Thursday 24 May and Stobart has made the offer in cash, which Autologic recommends its shareholders should accept.

Avril Palmer-Baunack, chief executive of Autologic, says: “The combination of Stobart and Autologic will further strengthen Autologic's market-leading position in the automotive marketplace.

"It will enable us to provide new, flexible and innovative solutions to our customer base, whilst also giving us the opportunity to improve competitiveness as a result of being part of a bigger business."

In a statement to the City the Stobart directors say that the ability of Autologic to use Stobart Rail infrastructure would reduce the level of empty running endemic to the car transporter sector. In addition, Autologic  would  be able to benefit from the Stobart Group's storage sites, both in terms of car storage and also overnight truck parking.

Furthermore they say that there are opportunities for Autologic to expand further into the European market.

Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler adds: “Autologic is an excellent fit with our group strategy to expand into complementary service offerings and it will facilitate our entry into the auto-logistics market in a leading position.

“We expect to be able to drive substantial synergies and efficiencies from improved fleet utilisation, vehicle buying and maintenance, which will benefit our customers and drive value for our shareholders.”