Chemical Wholesalers Get $20 Million Price-Fixing Fine

Germany’s antitrust regulator fined 12 chemical wholesalers a total of 15.1 million euros ($20.2 million) as part of a probe into regional price fixing.

The fines are the result of a settlement between the companies and the Bonn-based Federal Cartel Office, the regulator said in an e-mailed statement today. Among those who will pay fines are units of Solvadis Holding Sarl, Overlack AG, Stockmeier Holding GmbH and Julius Hoesch GmbH & Co., the office said. All the companies cooperated with the probe.

“Until our raids in 2007, the German chemical wholesale market had been dominated by a network of regional cartels,” the regulator’s president Andreas Mundt said. “After uncovering these practices, the positive effects of competition can work again.”

The probe started in 2006 after Brenntag AG, which took part in the cartel, applied to the regulator for leniency. As a result, Brenntag wasn’t fined, the office said. The regulator is investigating 16 additional wholesalers that weren’t identified in the statement.

These acts “happened about six or seven years ago and have been stopped,” said Peter Overlack, managing director of Moenchengladbach, Germany-based Overlack. “We’ve taken responsibility and antitrust compliance is now very high on our agenda.”

A lawyer for the Solvadis unit declined to comment. Stockmeier and Julius Hoesch representatives didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Brenntag bolstered its compliance efforts and there is zero tolerance for antitrust violations at the company, its spokesman Hubertus Spethmann said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons in London at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.

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