Pool Corp. Settles Anticompetition Complaint by U.S. Agency

Pool Corp. (POOL), the biggest distributor of swimming pool products in the U.S., agreed to stop using tactics that the Federal Trade Commission said were anticompetitive.

As part of the agreement, the Covington, Louisiana-based company won’t pressure manufacturers to stop selling their products to Pool Corp.’s rival distributors, the FTC said in a statement today.

Federal authorities accused Pool Corp. of threatening not to distribute the products of any manufacturer that also sold items to the company’s new competitors. Pool Corp., with 200 distribution centers, is so dominant that manufacturers representing 70 percent of all pool-product sales complied, the FTC said.

“Consumers had fewer choices and were forced to pay higher prices for pool products,” according to a joint statement from FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, and Commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill, all Democrats.

The commissioners voted 3-1 for the agreement, with Commissioner Thomas Rosch, a Republican, opposing the deal.

Entry of rival distributors into the market “was not prevented because entrants had other sources of supply,” Rosch said in a statement. “Consumers were not harmed.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington at jbliss@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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