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FRANCE

French Competition Authority fines four welding electrode producers for collusive tendering

On 16 December 2010, the French Competition Authority imposed fines totalling € 101,000 on four welding electrode producers (Le Bronze Industriel (LBI); Schrub; Ohlmann and Weldur) for colluding on tenders to supply car manufacturers Renault and Peugeot between 2002 and 2005.

In its decision, the Competition Authority found that the welding electrode producers had exchanged price lists before submitting offers to the car manufacturers. The Competition Authority also found that, for the first invitation to tender launched by Renault, LBI, Schrub and Ohlmann allocated among themselves the electrode references according to their turnover realised with Renault in 2001, in order to maintain their respective margins and market share.

When setting the fines, the Competition Authority took into account as an aggravating circumstance the fact that LBI was the leader of the anticompetitive practices. However, LBI benefited from a fine reduction for not having contested the facts. In addition, the Competition Authority significantly moderated the fines imposed on all the producers in order to take into account their serious financial difficulties, due notably to the economic crisis. As a result, the Competition Authority imposed symbolic fines. The Competition Authority thus seems to have taken into account the criticisms made last January by the Paris Court of Appeal, which notably castigated the Competition Authority for not having considered the major effect of the economic crisis on the steel sector and significantly reduced the fines imposed on the producers in this sector (see VBB on Competition, Volume 2010, No. 1).

GERMANY

German Federal Cartel Office imposes fines on chemicals wholesale cartel

On 13 December 2010, the...

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