Amcor, Visy Agree to Biggest Price-Fixing Settlement in Australia

Amcor Ltd. and Visy agreed to pay A$95 million ($96 million) in Australia's biggest price-fixing settlement, according to lawyers for the customers who sued them.

The settlement announced today in Sydney Federal Court is three times higher than the previous record, Bernard Murphy, chairman of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, told reporters after the hearing.

Amcor, Australia's biggest packaging company, agreed to pay A$63.3 million, while closely held packager Visy will pay A$31.7 million under the settlement. About 4,500 customers, led by Jarra Creek Central Packing Shed Ltd., sought to recoup overpayments for corrugated fiberboard packaging accrued from July 2000 to June 2009. They had initially sought more than A$1 billion in damages. The settlement must still be approved by a federal court judge.

“This is the highest payout for victims of price-fixing in Australia’s legal history,” Murphy said.

Roche Holding AG (ROG), BASF SE (BAS) and Aventis SA agreed to pay A$30.5 million in 2006 to settle allegations they fixed prices of animal vitamins in the 1990s, according to Maurice Blackburn.

Amcor confirmed today’s settlement in a statement. Visy spokesman Tony Gray didn’t immediately respond to phone or e- mail messages.

Amcor, Visy and the plaintiffs agreed to settle the suit March 8 as opening statements in the trial were set to begin.

Legal Costs

Amcor and Visy also agreed to pay the legal costs in the case, which Murphy declined to specify. He said the costs were “very substantial.”

The Federal Court fined Visy A$36 million in November 2007 after its late owner Richard Pratt and his companies admitted to 69 counts of breaching Australia’s Trade and Practices Act.

Amcor was granted immunity from prosecution for cooperating with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the agency’s suit against Visy and didn’t admit any wrongdoing.

Jarra sued on behalf of itself and other customers in April 2006.

The case is: Jarra Creek Central Packing Shed Ltd. v. Amcor Ltd. NSD 702/2006. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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