Only days after five companies were fined a total of €953 million for participating in a cartel within the automotive bearing market, the European Commission has reported its concerns that a number of companies in the automotive exhaust systems segment may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels, restrictive business practices and/or abuse of a dominant market position. On 25 March, officials from the European Commission undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in this sector. The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
Bridgestone Corporation has confirmed its receipt of a Statement of Objections on May 1, and the April 30 receipt of a Statement of Objections by its UK subsidiary. These said statements were sent by the European Commission with respect to alleged anticompetitive behaviour regarding the sale of marine hose. The company states it will examine the European Commission’s preliminary findings as reported in the Statement of Objections, and will respond ‘in due course’.
A Statement of Objections is a procedural document whereby the European Commission describes its preliminary view in relation to a possible infringement of EU competition law and allows its addressees to present arguments in response. A Statement of Objections is a preparatory document that does not prejudge the European Commission’s final decision. Any final decision by the European Commission is subject to appeal to the European Courts.