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From Antitrust Law Daily, March 19, 2014

European, Japanese auto bearings makers to pay more than €953 million to resolve EC cartel investigation

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

Five manufacturers of automotive bearings will pay €953,306,000 to resolve European Commission (EC) charges that they engaged in a price fixing cartel for more than seven years, from April 2004 until July 2011, the EC announced today.

Schaeffler of Germany was fined €370,481,000; SKF of Sweden was fined €315,109,000; NTN of Japan was fined €201,354,000; NSK of Japan was fined €62,406,000; and NFC of Japan was fined €3,956,000. All received a reduction in their fines under the EC’s settlement procedures. Japan-based JTEKT avoided a €86,037,000 fine for its involvement in the cartel because it revealed the existence of the cartel pursuant to the EC’s 2006 Leniency Notice.

According to the EC, the companies coordinated the passing-on of steel price increases to their automotive customers, colluded on Requests for Quotations and for Annual Price Reductions from customers, and exchanged commercially sensitive information. Automotive bearings are used by car, truck and car part manufacturers to reduce friction between moving parts inside a vehicle.

“This was a blatant breach of EU rules that strictly prohibit cartels,” said Joaquin Almunia, EC Vice President in charge of Competition policy, in a statement today. “Potentially all automotive companies buying bearings and having production sites in Europe were targeted.”

Charges by other competition authorities. The EC settlements with the bearings makers follow similar actions recently taken by competition agencies around the world. In 2013, JTEKT and NSK agreed to pay millions in fines and to plead guilty to U.S. charges that they conspired to fix prices for bearings. JTEKT and NSK also pleaded guilty to similar charges in Canada. NSK and Koyo Australia Pty. Ltd. have pleaded guilty to price fixing charges filed by Australia’s Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) also in 2013.

Companies: JTEKT Corp.; NSK Ltd.; Koyo Ltd.; AG SKF; Schaeffler; NTN; NFC

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust

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