Identified as a participant in two cartels related to braking systems, tyre and automotive systems manufacturer Continental has received a fine of just over 44 million euros for its involvement. The first of these cartels concerned the supply of hydraulic braking systems and also involved TRW (now ZF TRW) and Bosch. The second cartel concerned the supply of electronic braking systems and also involved Bosch.
The European Commission (EC) has fined Scania more than €880 million (£770m) for its participation in a truck cartel. Scania was the sixth and final manufacturer implicated in the price-fixing scandal, but decided against settling with the EC last year. The five other truck manufacturers – MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Iveco and DAF – were collectively fined €2.93bn (£2.57bn) after admitting wrongdoing.
Pirelli & C. S.p.A states that it will appeal the European Commission’s decision regarding cable cartel activity. While the Commission does not directly name Pirelli as a participant in an alleged cartel in the underground and submarine power cable market, it deems the Italian company “jointly and severally liable” as Pirelli owned alleged cartel protagonist Prysmian Cables and Systems (formerly Pirelli’s Cables and Systems division) until 2005, and therefore “exercised a decisive influence” over the business for the first six years of the decade-long cartel. The European Commission has imposed a shared fine of €67.31 million on Pirelli and Prysmian.
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.
Continental AG majority shareholder Schaeffler AG is one of five companies that have been handed substantial fines for operating a cartel in the automotive bearing market. The European Commission fined the companies a total of more than €953 million, with the largest single fine given to Schaeffler. The German manufacturer must pay €370.5 million, almost 40 per cent of the total penalty.
Following the January 28 European Commission decision regarding the international marine hose cartel, Bridgestone has once more revised its consolidated financial projections for the 2008 fiscal year. The company anticipates net sales of 3,250 billion yen (£25.5 billion), an amount unchanged since it last revised its projections on December 22, 2008 and 170 billion yen (£1.3 billion) less than the company’s original 2008 year projection, announced on August 8, 2008. Operating income, at 118 billion yen (£926.7 million) and ordinary income of 64 billion yen (£502.6 million) also remain the same as the December 22 projection. Net income, however, is now projected to be 7.5 billion yen (£58.9 million), a reduction of 4.5 billion yen (£35.3 million) or 35 per cent from the December revisions. Last August the tyre major had anticipated net income of 66 billion yen (£518.3 million).
Michelin has sought to play down earlier news reports that suggested the French tyre manufacturer would may acquire Continental’s tyre unit, should the division be for sale. According to German magazine WirtschaftsWoche, Michelin give Continental’s truck tyre unit “a great deal of attention, even though there might be cartel related problems,” quoting Michelin managing partner, Michel Rollier.
However, in the wider context of the article Reuters reports that Rollier was asked by the paper if Michelin would be interested following Continental’s acquisition the company: “The opportunity has not presented it self until now and it would not be a surprise if the Continental tyre business remains a core part of the Conti group,” Rollier said.
A Continental representatives told Tyres & Accessories that while the company has received a number of offers for both its commercial vehicle and ContiTech business units it is not interested in selling and does not comment on speculation.
Complaints of uncompetitive behaviour appear to have been made against Continental AG in Brazil. A company spokesman has stated that Conti does indeed face a legal complaint there, however he did not, as the complaint remains pending, disclose the exact nature of the complaint or who initiated it.
A report published in Germany’s Handelsblatt business newspaper indicates that Brazil’s Ministry of Justice has raised allegations against the Continental Siemens VDO unit, claiming it has on several occasions attempted to have a trip recorder produced by rival company Seva Engenharia Eletrônica withdrawn from sale. After these attempts failed, it is alleged that the Conti unit approached the competitor with the suggestion of establishing a cartel.
The two Dunlop Oil and Marine executives and the Lincolnshire based consultant charged in the US for their participation in a price fixing cartel have entered a guilty plea. The one-count felony charges were laid in a Houston court on December 5, and the three men subsequently filed court documents detailing their plea arrangements. The pleas will be entered on December 12.