Belfast native's demolition firm handed £16 million ‘bid rigging' fine

Brendan Kerr's Keltbray to appeal "excessive" CMA fine

Keltbray is one of 10 companies fined almost £60 million 'for illegally colluding to rig bids for demolition and asbestos removal contracts'.

A CONSTRUCTION business owned by Belfast native Brendan Kerr has confirmed it will appeal a £16 million fine issued by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Keltbray is among the 10 companies fined a total of £60m by the UK competition watchdog for "illegally colluding" to rig bids for contracts.

The GB-based construction firms have been punished over cartel agreements related to 19 contracts worth over £150m on both public and private sector contracts.

The work largely involved demolition and removal of asbestos.

McGee, founded in 1959 by Longford native Tom McGee, has been fined £3.7m arising from the investigation.

The CMA said the bid rigging, which took place between 2013 and 2018, included contracts for the development of Bow Street Magistrates' Court and Police station and at Selfridges department store in London.

Born in Belfast in 1965, Brendan Kerr left St Aidan’s High School at 15 and later trained as a carpenter. He went to England and worked for Berkley Homes and McGee before joining Keltbray in 1989.

He quickly rose through the ranks of the business, helping build it into one of the UK’s biggest and most successful demolition firms.

Mr Kerr became Keltbray's chief executive and sole shareholder in 2003, and today remains its executive chairman and sole owner.

In 2019, Keltbray signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Ulster University's GAA Academy.

Belfast-native Brendan Kerr, who owns the Keltbray Group.

The CMA confirmed Keltbray and McGee were among eight firms handed reduced fines “as settling parties who had admitted their involvement in the cartel activity”

However, in a statement on Thursday morning, Mr Kerr’s company described the £16m fine as “excessive” and confirmed it intends appealing the decision.

“Keltbray did not instigate any infringement activity or benefit financially from the infringements, and therefore believes the intended penalty is excessive when compared to Keltbray’s level of involvement, particularly when compared to the malpractices of other organisations who did benefit financially from their activities.

“Keltbray is therefore disappointed with the level of penalty which the CMA intends to impose on it and will be appealing that decision.”

Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director for enforcement, said: “Today’s significant fines show that the CMA continues to crack down on illegal cartel behaviour.

“It should serve as a clear warning: the CMA will not tolerate unlawful conduct which weakens competition and keeps prices up at the expense of businesses and taxpayers.”

Darren James, who succeeded Brendan Kerr as Keltbray’s chief executive in 2020, said: “We strongly condemn anti-competitive practices and treat all matters that reflect on our compliance with statutory obligations with the utmost gravity. Keltbray has cooperated fully with the CMA throughout this inquiry relating to activities between 2009 and 2017.

“Since that time, much has changed. Keltbray today is a very different organisation with the necessary controls and independent oversight in place, following the early adoption of the Wates Corporate Governance Principles for large, private companies, to ensure these isolated events could never reoccur.

“The reported CMA penalty is based on Keltbray’s total group turnover, rather than the actual level of culpability relevant to the wound down subsidiary. Keltbray is a large, highly diversified business, with demolition representing a small proportion of total revenues. Keltbray will be appealing today’s penalty decision.”


Brown & Mason – £2,400,000

Cantillon – £1,920,000

Clifford Devlin – £423,615

DSM – £1,400,000

Erith – £17,568,800

JF Hunt – £5,600,000

Keltbray – £16,000,000

McGee – 3,766,278

Scudder – £8,256,26

Squibb – £2,000,000.