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Fletcher Building faces probe into plasterboard supply deals

Friday 27th September 2013

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Fletcher Building, the biggest listed company in New Zealand, faces a probe into potentially anti-competitive behaviour in its plasterboard supply arrangements.

The Auckland-based company has today been advised that the competition watchdog, the Commerce Commission, "intends to inquire into its plasterboard supply arrangements with building supplies merchants," it said in a statement. A spokesman for the Commerce Commission confirmed the investigation was under way, but couldn't offer any more details.

"The company will full cooperate with the Commerce Commission and is confident that its supply arrangements comply with the Commerce Act," it said.

In June, Fletcher said the antitrust regulator was looking at the commercial timber market in Auckland, but didn't expect to face any enforcement action.

The shares were unchanged at $9.63 after the announcement, up 0.9 percent on the day.

Last year Finance Minister Bill English said Fletcher would probably come under the gaze of officials in a wide-ranging review into the cost structure of the building sector as part of the government's response to a Productivity Commission report on making housing more affordable.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment consultation closed in June, and is awaiting Cabinet to consider an options paper.

Fletcher Building owns Winstone Wallboards, the only local source of plasterboard and owner of the Gib plasterboard brand.

The government appeared to be seeking more competitive supply when it chose a new entrant supplier, German giant Knauf, in a procurement contract related to the Christchurch rebuild, announced in January.

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