Twelve Germany chemical wholesalers fined €15.1m for price fixing

07 December 2010 15:56  [Source: ICIS news]

PRAGUE (ICIS)--Twelve German chemical wholesalers have been fined a total of €15.1m ($20.1m) by Germany's Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) for running regional cartels, the antitrust regulator said on Tuesday.

The world's largest chemical distributor, Brenntag, escaped a fine after admitting its role in the regional price fixing while applying to the Bonn-based regulator for leniency, the regulator added.

The probe into the network of regional cartels begain in 2006 following Brenntag's approach for leniency, the Bundeskartellamt said.

Fines for anti-competitive agreements were imposed on BUFA Chemikalien, Hanke & Seidel, Reher & Ramsden Nachflg, Solvadis, three Stockmeier Holding units (Stockmeier Chemie, Stockmeier Chemie Dillenburg and Stockmeier Chemie Eilenburg) and Julius Hoesch.

CG Chemikalien, H Moller and Overlack group units Overlack Chemische Fabrik and Overlack Chemische Produkte were also fined.

"Until our search in 2007, the German chemical wholesale sector had for decades been characterised by a highly branched network of regional cartels. Now that these practices have been uncovered, the positive effects of competition will be able to unfold again," said Andreas Mundt, the president of the Bundeskartellamt.

Over several years, and in some cases several decades, the companies had agreed prices and supply quotas for industrial chemical commodities and concluded customer protection agreements, the regulator said.

"The cartels only covered the chemical wholesalers' distribution business. Direct supplies from chemical producers were not affected," it added.

The fines resulted from a settlement between the companies and the Bundeskartellamt. The fact that all the companies had fully cooperated with the investigation was taken into account in the setting of the fines, the regulator said.

It added that investigations continued into a further 16 chemical wholesalers, some of which were located in regions it was yet to scrutinise for cartel activities. The Bundeskartellamt did not identify these firms.

($1 = €0.75)

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By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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