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Friday, 24 April 2015

Mercedes fined 350 million yuan ($56 million) for price fixing in China

The National Development and Reform Commission in Jiangsu province in eastern China (close to Shanghai) fined Daimler's Mercedes-Benz 350 million yuan ($56 million) for a pricing monopoly there. The fine is the highest imposed yet on carmakers probed by the government last year for antitrust violations, and this is the last case arising from those investigations. Some Mercedes dealers were reportedly fined 7.7 million yuan in addition.
The NDRC said the carmaker had set minimum sales prices for E-class and S-class cars, and for some spare parts, and given warnings to dealers who did not comply. It had violated anti-monopoly law, damaging fair market competition and harming consumer rights. The regulator said in an official statement: "The investigation found Mercedes-Benz and its dealers in Jiangsu came to and carried out monopoly agreements to cap the lowest sales prices of E-class, S-class models and certain spare parts." Had infringements in other provinces also been found, the fine could have been much greater.
As we have reported in the past, China has been clamping down on the sector, punishing foreign automakers for price fixing for the first time last year when it fined the Chinese venture of Volkswagen and a sales unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chrysler division a combined $46 million. The regulator has denied that it is discriminating against foreign companies.
Last year, China found 12 Japanese parts-makers guilty of price fixing and imposed fines totalling 1.24 billion yuan, the biggest antitrust penalties in the China since new rules came into effect seven years ago.
The story is on the Automotive News Europe and Financial Times websites.

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