German personal care brands fined over price fixing

Fines market last stage of anti-trust suit

German anti-trust authority Bundeskartellamt has fined six German personal care and household products manufacturers and an industry association a total of €39m for sharing information about product pricing and retailer negotiations.

The companies fined include Beiersdorf, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, L’Oréal Germany, Procter & Gamble Germany, Gillette Germany and shoe cream manufacturer Erdal-Rex, as well as industry association Markenverband e.V.

The current round of fines is the last stage in a drawn out anti-trust suit. In 2006 whistle blower Colgate-Palmolive informed Bundeskartellamt that virtually all large personal care and household products manufacturers active in the German market were regularly meeting under the auspices of Markenverband.

During these work groups the companies would trade information about pricing strategies, fix retail prices and discuss how to deal with retail chains and distributors. The first group of participants were fined between 2008 and 2011, including Henkel & Schwarzkopf, Johnson & Johnson Germany, Coty Germany, Sara Lee Germany, Unilever Germany and Reckitt Benckiser Germany who had to pay a total of €24m.

This last round of fines will bring the anti-trust suit to a close. Beiersdorf has already has already settled; L’Oréal and P&G, however, have announced that they will file protests against the ruling.

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