J&J Fined With Rivals in China Lens Price-Fixing Case

(Corrects second paragraph of story published on May 30 to show that Carl Zeiss Vision Guangzhou was the business probed.)

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), the world’s biggest health-care products maker, and Bausch & Lomb Inc. were among firms fined a combined 19.6 million yuan ($3 million) for price fixing in the country’s contact lens and eye-glass market.

The companies’ contact lens units and the eye-glass lens businesses of Essilor International SA (EI), Nikon Corp. (7731), as well as Carl Zeiss Vision Guangzhou were investigated for pricing in some areas, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website yesterday.

Chinese regulators have scrutinized global and local companies over pricing in the past year, with six infant formula companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (MJN) and Danone fined a combined 669 million yuan for violating anti-monopoly laws last August.

Some of the eye companies had asked suppliers to sign a contract “strictly” adhering to manufacturer’s suggested retail prices, the NDRC said in the statement. Other companies made resellers hold similar promotions at the same time, maintaining prices, the regulator said.

Hoya Corp. (7741) and Shanghai Weicon Optics Co. were also investigated and were exempt from punishment because they had voluntarily reported monopolistic practices and rectified the issue, the NDRC said. Spokesmen at the companies being fined couldn’t immediately be reached or didn’t immediately comment yesterday.

Foreign companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Apple Inc. have drawn scrutiny from the authorities or state media in China. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook issued a public apology last year after the company was lambasted by Chinese state media for arrogance and poor customer service.

Police this month handed a case to prosecutors alleging that the former head of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Chinese unit ordered sales teams to bribe hospitals and doctors. Glaxo has said it is cooperating with authorities.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Liza Lin in Shanghai at llin15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anjali Cordeiro at acordeiro2@bloomberg.net Dave McCombs

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