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Friday, 29 January 2016

Antitrust: Commission fines car parts producers € 137 789 000 in cartel settlement

On 27 January 2016, the European Commission has imposed fines of € 137
789 000 on Melco (Mitsubishi Electric) and Hitachi for participating in
a cartel for alternators and starters with another firm, Denso, in
breach of EU antitrust rules.

Denso was not fined as it revealed the existence of the
cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement
and agreed to settle the case.

For more than
five years, the three Japanese car parts manufacturers coordinated
prices and allocated customers or projects with regards to alternators
and starters, two important components of car engines. Although contacts
associated with forming and running the cartel took place outside the
European Economic Area (EEA), the cartel affected European customers as
alternators and starters were also sold directly to car manufacturers in
the EEA.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: "Breaking
cartels remains a top priority for the Commission, in particular when
they affect important consumer goods, such as cars. Today's decision
sanctions three car part producers whose collusion
component costs for a number of car manufacturers selling cars in
Europe, and ultimately European consumers buying them.
European consumers are affected by a cartel, the Commission will
investigate it even if the cartel meetings took place outside Europe."

Commission's investigation revealed that between September 2004 and
February 2010 the companies met at each other's offices and in
restaurants and were in contact over the phone on a regular basis, in
order to limit competition between them. In particular the three

  • coordinated their responses to certain calls for
    tenders issued by car manufacturers, in particular with respect to
    determining the price at which they would tender and who should win the
    specific business;
  • shared out certain vehicle manufacturers and
    projects between themselves in terms of which of the three would supply
    alternators and starters;
  • exchanged commercially sensitive information such as price elements and market strategies.
There is more in the Press release.

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