The competition watchdog has slapped Rentokil with a record fine after it failed to hand over documents amid investigations into its proposed takeover of a rival.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fined the pest control firm £27,000, its highest-ever punishment for failing to produce documents.
Rentokil failed to comply with a notice asking for documents relating to its takeover of competitor Mitie’s pest control arm on numerous occasions, the CMA said.
The CMA issued Rentokil with a section 109 notice – a tool used by the regulator to require documents or information relevant to a merger – but it failed to produce more than half of the information requested.
Rentokil failed, without a reasonable excuse, to produce the documents by a set deadline, potentially slowing down the merger investigation.
It was therefore handed the £27,000 penalty by the CMA, just short of the £30,000 maximum the regulator can dish out for this type of offence.
The information supplied to the watchdog by Rentokil was judged to be incomplete and would have impeded the watchdog’s ability to assess the impact of the merger.
It is understood that the resultant slow-down in the CMA investigation and need to divert resources from elsewhere in the investigation increased its cost at public expense.
Rat-catching firm Rentokil announced plans to acquire Mitie’s pest control unit for £40 million last year, combining two of the industries largest suppliers.
In April, the CMA warned that the takeover could restrict choice and lead to higher prices for customers.