Construction companies allegedly involved in a huge price-fixing conspiracy came under pressure last night to compensate local authority victims that could exclude them from billions of pounds of public works contracts.

The recession-hit industry was fighting a rearguard action to shore up its reputation and business prospects after the Office of Fair Trading imposed £130m of fines on 103 companies yesterday.

The investigation, which has left household names such as Balfour Beatty, Kier Group and Carillion each facing millions of pounds of penalties, is the first big test of how the competition watchdog will deal with struggling companies during the downturn.

Financial Times