FCA raps three firms in its first decision under competition law
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found that three asset management firms breached competition law, in its first formal decision under its competition enforcement powers.
The firms are Hargreave Hale Ltd, Newton Investment Management Limited and River and Mercantile Asset Management LLP (RAMAM).
The FCA has fined Hargreave Hale £306,300 and RAMAM £108,600. The FCA has not imposed a fine on Newton because it was given immunity under the competition leniency programme.
The infringements consisted of the sharing of strategic information, on a bilateral basis, between competing asset management firms during one initial public offering and one placing, shortly before the share prices were set.
The firms disclosed and/or accepted otherwise confidential bidding intentions, in the form of the price they were willing to pay and sometimes the volume they wished to acquire. This allowed one firm to know another’s plans during the IPO or placing process when they should have been competing for shares.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “This is our first case using our competition law powers and demonstrates our commitment to taking enforcement action to protect competition. Asset management firms must take care to avoid undermining how prices are properly set for shares in both IPOs and placings. Failure to do so risks them acting illegally.
“The FCA will act when markets that play a vital role in helping companies raise capital in the UK’s financial markets are put at risk. We can also take regulatory action against an individual and did so here with respect to some of the same facts.”