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Home accepts multi-million fine in competition case

16. February 2016

Estate agency chain Home A/S has agreed to pay a fine of DKK 3.75 million for its contribution to the boycott of housing portal Boliga.dk. A personal fine has also been accepted in the case.

Director of the Competition and Consumer Authority Jakob Hald says:

"Competition between housing portals has helped increase transparency in the housing market, which is of great benefit to homebuyers. When large estate agency chains agree to encourage their members to boycott Boliga.dk, it is a serious infringement of the Danish Competition Act."

Head of the Fraud Squad, Public Prosecutor Morten Niels Jakobsen, says:

"Fair play in the real estate market is important. It is of great importance to the many Danes, who are in contact with the real estate industry. In this particular case, the matter in question represents a serious infringement, and the fine reflects this. I’m pleased that we’ve now taken a step further with part of this important set of cases. Now it’s up to the remaining companies to decide whether they want the case to be tried by the courts, which, as we all know, have the final say."

By accepting the fine of DKK 3.75 million, Home A/S has acknowledged that, in the period from mid-2009 to the end of 2010, the company entered into agreements or concerted practices between companies which, directly or indirectly, had the purpose or effect of restricting competition.
A senior executive from Home accepted a personal fine of DKK 25,000 for his involvement in the infringement.

In 2009, the Danish Association of Chartered Estate Agents and the estate agency chains behind the housing portal Boligsiden.dk agreed to encourage their agents to boycott Boliga.dk in order to shield Boligsiden.dk from competition. Among other things, the boycott meant that the agents should not make advertising photos of the homes available to Boliga.dk.

In 2012, the Competition Council ordered the Danish Association of Chartered Estate Agents and the estate agency chains to desist from any kind of agreement to refuse Boliga.dk access to displaying photos of the homes which the real estate agents had up for sale.

The Competition and Consumer Authority then reported the case to the Public Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime (SØIK).

In connection with the case, SØIK issued fines to:

The Danish Association of Chartered Estate Agents, Home A/S, Danbolig A/S, Nykredit Mægler A/S, EDC-Gruppen A/S, RealMæglerne Holding A/S, Danske Selvstændige Ejendomsmæglere (an association of independent estate agents) and a number of managing employees. Home A/S has now chosen to accept the fine.

For further information, contact Public Prosecutor Morten Niels Jakobsen, tel. +45 22 14 66 48, or Communications Manager at the Competition and Consumer Authority Hanne Arentoft, tel. +45 41 71 50 98.